"People living in all-electric homes have to live with the
legacy of decisions that were made a long time ago," Mills said.
The utilities and developers "made a multiyear decision in the '60s
when they created all-electric homes. Now homeowners are stuck with this
for a long time."
In the 1950s, when the all-electric home-building campaign was
launched, the process of making electricity was not as efficient as it
is today. The utilities rushed to build electrical plants to streamline
production, and as the cost of electricity decreased, homeowners were
encouraged to consume more power. The more they used, the less they
To keep demand high, the electrical industry launched the Live Better
Electrically, or LBE, campaign in March 1956. It was supported
nationwide by 300 electric utilities and 180 electrical manufacturers.
The campaign got then-actor Ronald Reagan, the popular host of
"General Electric Theater," to take his television audience on
a series of tours of his and wife Nancy's all-electric Pacific Palisades
An in-house GE sales pitch declared that "by Thanksgiving, there
should not be a man, woman or child in America who doesn't know that you
can 'Live Better Electrically' with General Electric appliances and
In October 1957, LBE launched the "Medallion Homes"
campaign, which sought to sell 20,000 all-electric homes nationwide by
1958, 100,000 by 1960 and 970,000 by 1970.
To earn a gold medallion--a decal affixed to a home's entryway and
considered the apex of modern, all-electric living--a home had to have
an electric clothes washer and dryer, waste disposal, refrigerator and
The Medallion Homes campaign was a huge success. By some estimates,
the nationwide goal of about 1 million all-electric homes was achieved,
according to the Edison Electric Institute, although data on the actual
number built is unavailable.
Local builders such as Michael L. Tenzer, president of Larwin Homes
from 1962-75, said that his company built several thousand Medallion
homes in Simi Valley, San Diego, Chatsworth and other West Valley areas.
-- Andre Weltman (firstname.lastname@example.org),
August 13, 2001