Monday, March 11, 2024

The Westinghouse Total Electric Home (1960)

by G. Jack Urso

From the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.

I’m Betty Furness. In all my years at Westinghouse, I’ve covered some pretty interesting stories, but here is truly the most wonderful and exciting thing I’ve ever had the chance to talk about. It’s the Westinghouse Total Electric Home. A home where electricity does everything, heats, cools, illuminates, launders, preserves and prepares foods, and entertains. It even lights a path to the front door.
— Opening Narration

Article in the Jacksonville [Florida] Daily News April 24, 1960, announcing the debut of the one of the first Westinghouse Total Electric Homes.
The Westinghouse Total Electric Home opened its doors on April 24, 1960. Representing the height of a Mid-Century Modernist approach to design, the home had all the electrical conveniences of the day, and more, from a video doorbell to a microfilm recipe library in the kitchen. In 1960, Westinghouse produced a short promotional film of the Total Electric Home, available above from the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.

According to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, the home is the result of the joint G.E. and Westinghouse Live Better Electrically (LBE) campaign launched in March 1956 to promote the sales of electric appliances and housewares. In the big post-war construction boom, this was smart way to attract both contractors, home buyers, and the media. The program was enhanced by a series of medallions that could be displayed on homes that met certain levels of LBE criteria. Several types of medallions were awarded over the duration of the program:

  • Medallion Home – Live Better Electrically
  • Gold Medallion Home – Live Better Electrically
  • Total Electric Award – Gold Medallion Home – Live Better Electrically
  • Light for Living – Gold Medallion Home 

The Westinghouse All Electric Home in the video is meant to be a showplace for all the associated technology developed by Westinghouse for this project. F
loor plans went for $10 ($105.26 as of 2024). It likely would have been cost-prohibited for most homeowners to afford all the options, and I suspect some may never have quite made it to full production (like the microfilm recipe library). Nevertheless, not all the options were needed to meet the LBE criteria and the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation reports the campaign was a success with some estimates ranging with over one million LBE Medallion homes being constructed. Particularly in the Northwest United States where electric power was relatively inexpensive at the time, this proved to be a boon to the construction industry.

The home environment control station.
In addition to the video doorbell and microfilm recipe library, other features include:

  • A home environment control station
  • An electric starter living room open grill/fireplace
  • Home entertainment center
  • Electric exercise equipment
  • Electrically operated walls to provide open play and study areas

Period advertisement with future president Ronald Regan.
Advertisements, commercials, and industrial films, while biased towards the producer, provide an insight into the economy and aspirations of the era. Aeolus 13 Umbra has previously turned its attention to a number of these types of films in past, including:

The LBE campaign reportedly lasted until the early 1970s and Seattle-area real estate continued to advertise LBE medallion homes as a sales point through 1983, according to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. More affordable analogs of the technology featured in the video are within the reach of homeowners today, proving that these futuristic, if slightly impractical, model homes of the past proved prophetic in predicting consumer trends.

Primary Source: The Westinghouse Total Electric Home Brochure (1959) [Internet Archive]



  1. Makes you wonder who (or when) first had the idea for electric homes. Perhaps even before Westinghouse and company? Nothing new under the Sun. Interesting post. Good work.

  2. I want one. 60's decor and all.