New Ways to Use Electricity

Consider electrifying your lawn care with an electric or battery operated trimmer.

If you listen carefully, you can hear a quiet transformation happening. Electric appliances and equipment are becoming more popular than ever among consumers. Advancements in technology and battery power, coupled with decreasing costs, win over consumers looking for comparable utility and versatility. A bonus: Using electric equipment is quieter and better for the environment.

Consumers and homebuilders alike are turning to electric appliances to increase energy efficiency and savings inside the home. For example, whether a traditional electric stove or an induction stovetop, both are significantly more efficient than a gas oven.

Conventional residential cooking tops typically use gas or resistance heating elements to transfer energy with efficiencies of 32% and 75%, respectively, according to Energy Star. Electric induction stoves—which cook food without any flame—reduce indoor air pollution and can bring water to a boil about twice as fast as a gas stove.

Robotic vacuums are also gaining in popularity. Fortune Business Insights attributes the growth and popularity of vacuums such as Roomba to a larger market trend of smart home technology and automation. Think Alexa directing a Roomba to vacuum. On the horizon are autonomous lawn mowers.

More tools and equipment with small gas-powered motors are being replaced with electric ones that include plug-in batteries. In the past few years, technology in battery storage has advanced significantly. Hand-held tools with plug-in batteries can hold a charge longer and offer the user the same versatility and similar functionality as gas-powered tools.

For do-it-yourselfers and those in the building trades, national brands such as Makita, Ryobi and Milwaukee offer electric versions of their most popular products, including drills, saws and sanders.

In addition to standard offerings, consumers can buy a wide array of specialty plug-in tools, such as power inverters, air inflaters and battery chargers.

“A few years back, the list of new electric product categories that were making their way to the market was limited: electric scooters, lawn mowers, leaf blowers and vehicles,” says Keith Dennis, an energy industry expert and president of the Beneficial Electrification League. “With the expansion of batteries and advancements in technology, we are seeing almost anything that burns gasoline or diesel as having an electric replacement available on the market. There are electric bikes, school buses, pressure washers, utility terrain vehicles, backhoes—even airplanes and boats.”

A case in point is increased use of electric-powered tools and equipment, with more national brands offering a wider selection, including lawn mowers, leaf blowers, string trimmers and snow blowers. The quality of zero- or low-emissions lawn equipment is improving.

Electric equipment requires less maintenance. Often the biggest task is keeping them charged. Because electric equipment is quieter, you can listen to music or your favorite podcast while working outdoors—something not possible with gas-powered equipment.

Another benefit of using electric appliances or equipment is that by virtue of being plugged into the grid, the environmental performance of electric devices improves over time. In essence, electricity is becoming cleaner through increased renewable energy generation, so electric equipment will have a diminishing environmental impact over time. That is quite a hat trick: improving efficiency, quality of life and helping the environment.

Environmentally Beneficial Electrification

Innovations in energy technologies are creating new ways to use electricity rather than on-site fossil fuels, like propane, natural gas and gasoline.

This concept is known as beneficial electrification and suggests that the use of more all-electric appliances and equipment, like water heaters, weed trimmers and electric vehicles, provides consumers with greener products and benefits the environment.