Volts podcast: Saul Griffith and Arch Rao on electrifying your house

The promise and challenges of residential electrification.


Those of you who have been reading or listening to Volts for a while know that I am fairly obsessed with clean electrification, which involves shifting all the things we do now with fossil fuels over to electric equivalents (while cleaning up electricity supply).

One important nexus of electrification is the residential sector. US homeowners are in a position to electrify their power supply (with solar panels), their heating and cooling (with heat pumps), and their transportation (with electric vehicles). How can we induce millions of them to make the decision to electrify, starting today? How can we make it cheaper and easier for them? 


To discuss that and related issues, I was excited to connect with two of the smartest people working in this space. The first is analyst, inventor, tinkerer, and entrepreneur Saul Griffith, who will be familiar to longtime readers — I've cited his work numerous times, especially his most recent work with Rewiring America, which advocates for rapid electrification. There is probably no one on earth with a better understanding of the US energy system. (He’s got a book on electrification coming out in October.)

Griffith is a backer of and investor in a startup called Span, which makes smart electrical panels that offer homeowners fine-grained control over all their individual appliances, lights, and devices (via an app on their phones, of course). The founder and CEO of Span, my other guest, is Arch Rao. Rao was the project lead for Tesla's Powerwall home battery before leaving to start Span, so it goes without saying that he is intimately familiar with the technical and economic challenges of home electrification.

I talked with Griffith and Rao about why home electrification is such a hassle right now and how it can be made easier, the right way to fund and finance it, and how it can improve quality of life for the home’s inhabitants. It was a fun time — we covered a ton of ground.