San Francisco Bay Area to phase out natural gas heaters

March 16 (Reuters) – The San Francisco Bay Area will phase out natural gas furnaces and water heaters starting in 2027 to improve local air quality and public health.

It’s the latest move by local U.S. officials to phase out natural gas, a fossil fuel, from heating homes and buildings. California has been at the forefront of the effort, and the California Air Resources Board said last year that it will require all new space and water heaters to have zero emissions by 2030.

Removing natural gas appliances would mean switching to electric equipment such as heat pumps.

In a vote held late Wednesday, the board of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) adopted rules that will require new water heaters and furnaces to have zero emissions of nitrogen oxides, or NOx. According to the BAAQMD, exposure to NOx has been linked to respiratory conditions.

The rules do not apply to cooking appliances such as gas stoves.

Currently, about two-thirds of Bay Area households use natural gas appliances, according to the regulator. The rules will prevent up to 85 premature deaths a year and save up to $890 million a year in health care costs and lost work.

They will apply to single-family water heaters in 2027, furnaces in 2029 and multifamily and commercial water heaters in 2031. The compliance dates are intended to allow the availability of zero-emission equipment to increase and the cost to come down, the BAAQMD said in a staff report.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Leslie Adler

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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