Last month, the state of California passed a rule banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 in their quest to combat climate change. Now, the state has set its sights on the HVAC industry and, more specifically, furnaces and water heaters.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously voted to approve a proposal that would eliminate the sale of gas-powered furnaces and water heating appliances by 2030. Many in the HVAC industry are not excited by this decision.

“California can pipe natural gas directly to residential high-efficiency, low-NOx furnaces, which is converting more than 97% to heat. Instead, the state is choosing to generate peaking power using combustion turbines that convert 20% to 30% of the natural gas to electricity, which is then wheeled down transmission lines, across step down transformers, with transmission line losses the whole way until it powers strip heat,” Service Nation President Matt Michel said. “How exactly is this better for the environment, the consumer, or the grid?”

The HVAC contractor association ACCA also does not agree with the action.

“ACCA’s position is that contractors and consumers should have access to whatever source of fuel makes the most sense for their business and economic needs,” said Bart James, president and CEO of ACCA. 

This makes California the first state in the U.S. to implement such a measure. The goal is for this action to help ease the climate crisis by cutting planet-heating emissions. The commitment is part of a much broader strategy of the state implementation plan to meet a federal 70 parts per billion, 8-hour ozone standard over the next 15 years.

"We need to take every action we can to deliver on our commitments to protect public health from the adverse impacts of air pollution, and this strategy identifies how we can do just that," CARB Chair Liane Randolph said. "While this strategy will clean the air for all Californians, it will also lead to reduced emissions in the many low-income and disadvantaged communities that experience greater levels of persistent air pollution. But to truly meet the ozone standard, California needs more federal action to clean up harmful diesel pollution from primarily federally controlled sources, from locomotives and ocean-going vessels to aircraft, which are all concentrated in communities that continue to bear the brunt of poor air quality. We simply cannot provide clean air to Californians without the federal government doing its part.”

The decision does not make sense to Michel.

“So let me get this straight.  The state that has to plead with Tesla owners to not charge their vehicles between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. so it can keep the lights on wants to put more stress on their failing electric grid by banning gas furnaces and gas water heaters. Brilliant,” Michel said. “California is a state that is proud to be pro-choice when it comes to abortion and pro-choice when it comes to gender but is all mandate when it comes to powering your car, heating your home, or heating your water.  It wouldn’t be so bad if they were also pro-generation or at least pro-nuclear, which happens to be the only form of reliable baseload power that emits less carbon than a pontificating politician.”