Home Energy & Heat Pump Classes!

Energy auditor and renewable energy specialist Chandler Kemp, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Energy at the UA Dillingham campus, is offering two new online classes! These great classes start Tuesday, September 20 and Thursday, September 22 so time is running out!

These online class runs for four or five weeks, meet one evening per week, and offer one continuing education credit each! See pdf flyers below and download each class syllabus for full information!

Tuition for these great classes is free and you can register for the classes online HERE!

Heat Pump Loan Cap Raised!

2022 may just be Juneau’s ‘Year of the Heat Pump’! It seems that everybody’s doing it. The word is out that heat pumps will save you money, heat your home nearly all year long, provide air conditioning, keep your home heating local, eliminate oil hazards, and shrink your carbon footprint in one of the most impactful ways possible.

Demand for both heat pumps and the contractors to install them is at an all-time high! If you are ready to move on a heat pump, yet you’re finding that cash flow is an issue, our Heat Smart – True North FCU (TNFCU) heat pump loan may just be the solution for you. The hurdle of high up front initial costs is a common stumbling block for many and this loan is one of our tools that can help you make the leap.

In response to local demand for heat pumps atop a surge in interest to move away from fossil fuel heating, Alaska Heat Smart has been busy creating new programs to make it easier for ALL Juneau residents to benefit from heat pumps’ money-saving and climate-friendly benefits. Following on the heels of our wildly popular free home heat pump assessment program, we are making headway on the development of our lower income Healthy Homes program and our modest income Home Heat Pump Incentive Program.

Our traditional loan program has been up and running for more than a year now. We’ve often been asked if the loan cap could be raised from it’s starting cap of $7,500. Complex or multi-head heat pump systems are often quoted from $8,500 to close to $30,000. Alaska Heat Smart is happy to announce a new loan cap of $12,500! If you have good credit and a solid debt to income ratio, this loan could be yours.

If granted $12,500 at 4%, the lowest rate offered on this loan by TNFCU, you’ll free up cash flow and start saving money immediately!

Interest payments over 5 years for a $12,500 heat pump loan at 4% interest would average just under $22 per month! With the average Juneau heat pump installation saving a homeowner over $1,200 annually, despite paying interest, there would still be a $78 average monthly savings over the course of a year!

And, if you need a smaller loan, interest payments will be even lower and your savings that much higher!

Learn more about our home heat pump loan today!

Local group has $2 million for home energy upgrades | Juneau Empire

You can put your name on our waitlist HERE! And, if you know others who may be interested, please, share our information with them! We hope to have our Healthy Homes program up and running by late July.

The Healthy Homes program is designed to provide a range of upgrades to low-income homes, according to Andy Romanoff, Alaska Heat Smart’s executive director and a member of Renewable Juneau, and the group has decided to use the funds from an energy-efficiency approach.

“The program isn’t intended to just install heat pumps, it’s a whole home remediation program,” Romanoff said. “Heat pumps are just a component of what that home will receive.”

HUD places a limit on how much can be spent per home, Romanoff said, which in this case is about $15,000, but with Alaska’s higher costs that means Alaska Heat Smart will be able to upgrade fewer homes than would be possible in the Lower 48. Alaska Heat Smart hopes to provide upgrades to 90 homes, Romanoff said. Additional upgrades include installing certain kinds of insulation, mold and moisture removal and the removal of toxic substances.

Local group has $2 million for home energy upgrades | Juneau Empire

Local group has $2 million for home energy upgrades | Juneau Empire

Top Down Support for a Common Sense Approach

Good news on the heat pump front. THIS inspiring news regarding new federal attention being paid to heat pumps could be a game changer!

The HEATR Act

With 4 million heat pumps installed in the US in 2021, yet 6 million AC units installed in the same period, the Senate’s HEATR Act, introduced recently, looks to incentivize the adoption of heat pumps. As we know, these amazing devices provide both the benefits of heating and cooling.

A key provision in the recently introduced HEATR Act encourages manufacturers to convert their whole supply of traditional central ACs — which can only cool — into devices that both heat homes and cool them: heat pumps. Sponsored by Democratic Senators Klobuchar, Smith, Hickenlooper, Whitehouse, Leahy, Merkley and Booker, the bill has the potential to transform American climate control.

Two-way heat pumps have a few important advantages over both one-way air conditioners and traditional heat sources. They tend to be two to four times more efficient than competing devices, which means they result in comparable or lower energy bills for most families. By taking over from other heat sources such as gas, oil and wood, heat pumps can dramatically reduce indoor air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Even homes in Florida, which have only a handful of heating days each year, can benefit.

Read the full Canary Media story, A New Bill Could Speed up American Electrification by 20 Years, HERE.

Incentives NOW in southeast Alaska!

If you are currently an Alaska Power and Telephone (APT) customer (Prince of Wales Island, Haines, Skagway and Gustavus), a heat pump incentive exists for you right now! APT offers both a heat pump cash incentive as well as an electric vehicle incentive. Learn more about your potential eligibility for APT’s $500 incentive here! And, if you are a Sealaska shareholder in addition to an APT customer, Sealaska will double the incentive by kicking in an additional $500. You can learn about that additional bonus here!

Alaska Heat Smart is currently in the early design stages of an additional incentive program that will target income-qualified Juneau heat pump adopters. We hope to roll out our program this coming fall with incentives of up to nearly 50% off the cost of a heat pump and its installation.

$300 Federal Tax Credit for Heat Pumps

It’s not too late to claim your $300 tax credit if you installed an air source heat pump in 2021!

IRS form 5695 is the one you’re after. Look down to line 22A on page 2 of the form for the proper place to write in $300. Full form instructions and a link to both forms can be found on our website’s ‘Financing and Incentives‘ page under the ‘For Home’ menu tab. The first and second links under ‘Grants, Tax Credits, and Other Incentives’ will take you to the proper IRS page where you can download both forms.

If you are one of the many who now file online with Turbo Tax, here is a page with detailed instructions on how to enter the $300 credit when filing.

Resilient Peoples Place: Energy independence is both a destination and a journey

Air source heat pumps for Southeast Alaskans.

Clay Good, Regional Energy Catalyst for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, STEM Educator for the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, and Renewable Juneau board member offers us this wonderful update, in the 3.23.22 Juneau Empire, on the rapidly growing rural hydropower sector of southeast Alaska and how it will benefit the lives of those who use it.

While the largest population centers in the region enjoy the benefits of hydroelectricity, the smallest communities and villages continue to struggle with high energy costs as they work to free themselves from the grip of expensive and volatile diesel energy. That’s why more small Southeast communities are stepping up to the challenge, finding new ways to bring renewable options to town. And as hydropower increases regionally, additional renewable electrical energy creates opportunities for homeowners and communities to enjoy the many benefits clean energy provides.

Clay not only covers hydropower trends across rural southeast Alaska, but details how this clean, fish-friendly, local energy can save homeowners money, improve the quality of the air that they breathe, and keep dollars flowing in local economies. He goes on to offer solutions and sources of additional information, from non profit heat pump advisory services like our, to carbon offset solutions, as well as heat pump incentive programs.

Where can I get helpful information, incentives, or assistance? It’s not always easy for cash strapped homeowners to come up with several thousand dollars so they can get started saving energy and money. Additionally, because ASHP’s are an emerging market in Alaska, not every community will have sale and installation businesses readily available. Plus, it can be complicated to have an ASHP installed due to the need to coordinate various electricians, contractors and ASHP installers. Fortunately, there are excellent programs in Southeast designed to assist homeowners who are considering making the switch to an ASHP with technical and financial assistance.

Read the full story here!

Thermalize Juneau Featured in AK Business Magazine

A huge shout out to our partners at the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks for helping to pull this story together!

Through the assistance of Thermalize Juneau, local homeowners interested in clean energy are taking advantage of heat pumps. The program helps them leverage their buying power to obtain discounts and provides technical assistance to demystify the process of installing a new and unfamiliar technology.

We continue to learn from our first Thermalize campaign. It’s closing in on the end of February and we’re right about at the half way point with heat pump installations and energy efficiency home retrofit projects. We’ve decided to push the second installment of Thermalize off until fall of 2022 at the earliest. If you are currently on our TJ 2.0 wait list, we’ll be in touch with more information very soon. Stay tuned for more news on TJ 2.0 scheduling. In the meantime, we encourage you to get your foot in the door so to speak and sign up for a free Alaska Heat Smart home heat pump energy assessment. As homeowners in the AK Business article stated, the knowledge gained from the assessment can really help to inform your decision making process about how to move forward with amendments to your home heating system.

Carbon Impact – Heat Pump vs Electric Car

This post provides the inside scoop and background data behind Renewable Juneau’s recent New Year’s Resolution post. RJ’s post offers purchasing advice for those striving for a carbon footprint shrinking resolution – purchase a heat pump or an electric car?

The conclusion to that first world consumer conundrum announced in RJ’s post? Installing an air source heat pump in your oil-heated home can have a greater effect on shrinking your carbon footprint then buying that sexy new electric car! Investing in the heat pump will eliminate nearly double the amount of CO2 emissions as an EV, and it will save you money every year as well! If your New Year’s resolution is to reduce your CO2 emissions, it’s no contest – install a heat pump.

Here we offer you the deeper dive into the numbers. Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios that compare the impacts of buying an electric vehicle versus the results from installing a heat pump. 

If your house is like most fuel-oil heated houses in Juneau, odds are good that you burn more heating oil in a year than gallons of gas in your car. That means you probably spend more money on heating oil, and produce more CO2 from heating oil, than gasoline. Even if you heat your house with something else, like electric baseboard or wood pellets or propane, you’re probably spending more money to heat your house than to fuel your car. So let’s explore that.

Before we get into the analyzing the numbers, we need to make a few caveats. With cars, we’re only going to be looking at fuel costs (gasoline or electricity). There are some other very significant annual costs that we’ll ignore, such as insurance, maintenance, and probably the biggest one – depreciation. Those costs will usually amount to thousands of dollars per year. If you buy a new car, after ten years its resale value is probably less than half of its original purchase price. A heat pump, on the other hand, typically has little or no maintenance costs through its service life, and unless you purchase an extended warranty, it’s probably covered your house insurance. While you can usually sell your car for something after ten years, we assume that once your heat pump is installed, it has no resale value. We also are ignoring inflation factors, and we’re using today’s energy prices.  

Scenario 1:  The modest budget scenario.
A typical small house we often see in Juneau is around 1,200 square feet. It heats with electric baseboard and has a Toyo or Monitor oil stove installed in the main living area. Its annual heating expenses are a combination of oil and electricity, with oil representing the bulk of the expense. A common and cost-effective heat pump solution for this house is to replace the Toyo stove with a single-head heat pump located in the main room, and use the electric baseboards to provide supplemental heat for the peripheral rooms.         

We’re going to assume that the owner of this house might sell their older small, fuel-efficient car and buy a bargain EV like a used Nissan Leaf. We’re also going to assume that their current car still has years of life left in it if they choose to hang on to it. We’re also assuming that they don’t drive a lot of annual miles. 

So which is the better investment – the EV or the heat pump? First, let’s look at their current status.

Existing carToyo/Electric baseboard
Miles driven per year6,000NA
MPG30NA
Gallons fuel per year200340
Annual energy cost$710$1,253
Annual CO2 emissions (lbs)4,0007,559

Now let’s look at two hypothetical options: the EV; or the heat pump.

EVHeat pump
Purchase cost$11,000$5,900
Resale value of existing car$5,000NA
Net cost$6,000$5,900
New annual energy cost$229$705
Annual savings$481$548
Annual CO2 reduction (lbs)4,0007,559
10-year investment CO2 return (how many lbs of CO2 reduced over ten years per purchase dollar)6.7 lbs/$12.8 lbs/$

Basically, investing in a heat pump will eliminate nearly double the amount of CO2 emissions, and it will save you money every year as well! If your New Year’s resolution is to reduce your CO2 emissions, there’s no contest – install a heat pump.

Scenario 2:  The large budget scenario. 
A typical larger house we often see in Juneau is around 3,200 square feet, and heats with an oil boiler delivering heat throughout the house with hydronic baseboards. Its annual heating expenses consist entirely of heating oil.

This owner is considering converting the entire house to heat pumps and eliminating the oil boiler completely. Perhaps the boiler is at the end of its service life, or the owner wants to eliminate all CO2 emissions. This will be a considerably more expensive heat pump than the one in Scenario 1.      

We’re going to assume that the owner of this house might sell their large SUV and buy a shiny new $55,000 Tesla Model S.  They drive a lot by Juneau standards – 10,000 miles.

So which is the better investment – the EV or the heat pump?  First, let’s look at their current status.

Existing carToyo/Electric baseboard
Miles driven per year10,000NA
MPG20NA
Gallons fuel per year5001,710
Annual energy cost$1,775$5,455
Annual CO2 emissions (lbs)10,00038,271

Now let’s look at the two options: the Tesla; or the heat pump.

EVHeat pump
Purchase cost$55,000$24,000
Resale value of existing car$20,000NA
Net cost$35,000$24,000
New annual energy cost$1,775$2,717
Annual savings$1,357$2,739
Annual CO2 reduction (lbs)10,00038,271
10-year investment CO2 return (how many lbs of CO2 reduced over ten years per purchase dollar)2.9 15.9 

Again, it’s no contest. The heat pump wins by a mile. Not only does it cost you a lot less to buy, but you also save twice as much money per year and eliminate nearly four times as many pounds of CO2 emissions. Every dollar you spend on a heat pump reduces over five times as much CO2 as the EV does over ten years. The heat pump installation is by far a better investment! But of course, that heat pump isn’t nearly as shiny and exciting as that fancy new Tesla, and your friends won’t be as impressed by it. 

Your house likely falls somewhere between these two scenarios. Alaska Heat Smart can help you perform this type of analysis of your home and car options to help you make informed decisions. Simply apply for a free heat pump assessment here.  

Heat Pump Installations and Energy Efficiency Weatherization Upgrades are Underway

Alaska’s first Thermalize campaign has seen an outpouring of interest! We have 164 applicants and at five months after the application closing period, a total of 80 homeowners are looking to install heat pumps. A dozen more are pursuing heating bill-reducing energy efficiency measures. Even before our contractors went to work, nine ambitious homeowners beat the crowd and used their Alaska Heat Smart heat pump assessments to install a heat pump early! With these numbers, it seems very likely that heat pump installs will see a $400 rebate, and weatherization upgrades a 3% discount.