Alaska Heat Smart (AHS) dips it toes into the waters of Sitka! We’ll soon conduct our first out-of-town heat pump assessment, lay some groundwork for a developing heat pump incentive pilot program, and begin building what we hope is a Sitka home heat pump advisory service.
The Sitka Carbon Offset Fund (SCOF), a project of the Sitka Conservation Society, recently asked AHS to perform a heat pump assessment of the landmark ANB Hall. This will be the first ‘on the ground’ assessment foray for AHS outside of Juneau and we hope that it will be the first of many! While in Sitka, Alaska Heat Smart energy advisor Bob Deering will meet with representatives of the hall, visit with Baranof Island Housing Authority staff, and if time permits, perform one or two additional ‘walk through’ heat pump assessments of homes brought to AHS by our on-the-ground coordinator, SCOF project director, and Southeast Sustainable Partnership catalyst Chandler O’Connell.
The ANB Hall, which opened 108 years ago, is a national historic landmark and according to the National Park Service, the
Alaska Native Brotherhood, Sitka Camp No. 1, is the original chapter of a pan-Alaska Native federation of local camps in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. The Alaska Native Brotherhood was founded in 1912, developing out of the efforts of Tlingit communities fighting bans against Alaska Natives in restaurants and movie theaters. For the first half of the 20th century the Alaska Native Brotherhood was the only such group representing Alaska Natives.
The Alaska Native Brotherhood & Sisterhood was instrumental in fighting racial segregation practices in Alaska and in gaining full U.S. citizenship for Alaska Natives. Today, the Alaska Native Brotherhood & Sisterhood camps are an important force in preserving native heritage.
The Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Sitka serves the community as a camp headquarters and is open to the public for social events and community activities.
The old historic structure is relies heavily on oil for heat and propane for hot water. ANB hall managers hope that the building’s dependence on fossil fuels can be supplanted by heat pumps that draw heat from the surrounding air and power from the waters of Blue Lake. Much more information about the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood is available on their website.
AHS is also excited to announce that discussions are underway with a diverse group of Sitka stakeholders to craft a pilot heat pump incentive program. If successful, roughly 21 lower to modest income Sitka homes could be awarded between $1,500 and $3,000 to assist in the addition of a heat pump to their home. Full details will be forthcoming over the next month or so. Teaming up an incentive of this size with the new ‘up to’ $2,000 Inflation Reduction Act tax credit for heat pump installs puts these projects into no-brainer territory.
Hand in hand with a heat pump incentive program is our foundational heat pump assessment program. In order for an incentive program to be successful AHS relies on a solid home heat pump assessment program. It is vital to ensure that a home not only qualify for a heat pump incentive based on overall income, but also on home readiness. Most homes will see great benefit from the addition of a heat pump – reduced heating costs, reduced emissions, reduced health and environmental risk. In some cases, a home may need other energy efficiency work performed first. Air sealing, insulation, electrical panel upgrades are realities that need to be considered when adding to a home’s energy and heating mix. If a home can be deemed heat pump ready, the benefits of the investment will be a sure bet, resulting in happy homeowners, savings, and slashed emissions. AHS hopes to be able to train an interested SItkan or two to become our newest home heat pump advisors.
There is more to come as AHS works with Sitkans to develop these new programs. Don’t hesitate to let us know your thoughts. You can share them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (907) 500-5050.