What does all that mean for the grid? In short, more work. Electric heating systems generally use more power than air conditioners, so if every home was electrified, most grids would see peak demand in the winter rather than the summer. That could lead to future blackouts if grid operators don’t plan accordingly; a 2019 analysis by an Austin, Texas-based energy research firm found that switching all homes in the state to electric heat would boost peak winter power demand by 23%, to a level far above what crashed the grid this week.

That problem is easily solved as long as grid operators are prepared. The crisis in Texas this week was exacerbated because many natural gas plants there are routinely offline in the winter for maintenance. In a world with electric heat and more climate-related extreme weather swings, that schedule will need to adapt—and more sources of power generation and storage will be needed across the board.

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