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
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
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.

Thermalize Contractors Selected!

Thermalize Juneau has signed agreements with three Juneau businesses to lead the charge with heat pump installations, electrical connectivity for these heat pumps, and the fulfillment of energy efficiency retrofits. Panhandle Heat Pumps, ALCAN Electrical, and Building Pros, Inc. will all be realize a healthy uptick in their business over the next 6 months as the 156 Thermalize applicants move ahead with commitments and decided upon installations and upgrades. Our outreach team is currently making calls to applicants and it is our hope that installations and upgrades will commence by July 15.

Thermalize Juneau March Q&A Workshop

Join us on March 18th at 6:00 PM Alaska for a Thermalize Juneau Zoom workshop. Our goal with the workshop is to help everyone who has signed up or is interested in Thermalize Juneau better understand what the program offers, what its limitations are, and what is expected from participants.

The agenda will cover:

  • Why participate in a Thermalize campaign
  • What energy efficiency measures are available through Thermalize Juneau
  • Why these energy efficiency measures are available
  • Why a single head minisplit is the air source heat pump available
  • What the timeline of Thermalize Juneau will be
  • What participants will need to do at each stage in the timeline
  • Questions & Answers

The workshop will be hosted by Alaska Heat Smart, Cold Climate Housing Research Center, Information Insights, AEL&P, and Renewable Juneau. The workshop will take place over Zoom, and you can register and receive the Zoom sign in information by clicking on the link below.

Now Open – Thermalize Juneau Registration

Registration for Thermalize Juneau is now open! Sign up through the link below. Up to 150 registrations will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis through April 1st. By registering for Themalize Juneau, you are not making a financial commitment at this time. You are only signalling interest in participating in the bulk purchase once the terms are solidified. You are also requesting an initial Heat Pump Assessment and free energy audit, both of which will help you know if the Thermalize Juneau bulk purchase items will work well for your goals.

The following items will be available through the Thermalize Juneau bulk purchase:

  • Single head mini-split air source heat pump
  • Air sealing and ventilation
  • Attic insulation
  • Crawlspace vapor barriers, insulation, and ventilation

You may choose either just the heat pump, or the heat pump in addition to any of the energy efficiency measures. We are restricting the bulk purchase to these items to keep the program simple, and because we have found that they provide the greatest return on investment for the typical Juneau building.

If you have already applied for or received an Alaska Heat Smart Heat Pump Assessment and you would like to participate in the Thermalize Juneau bulk purchase, please complete this registration form.

Juneau Ductless Heat Pump Market Survey

Thank you to Information Insights for recently completing the Juneau Ductless Heat Pump Market Survey. As the first step in the Thermalize Juneau Department of Energy project, this helps us understand current heat pump user experiences, the reasons behind the heat pump installations, occupant satisfaction, perceived energy savings, and usage patterns. This will inform efforts in this year’s Thermalize Juneau program and other future heat pump initiatives.

New Donation Page

To help make our mission more sustainable, Alaska Heat Smart has now made a donation page available on our website. If you like our mission or appreciate the advice we provide, we would appreciate your support. Your donation helps us continue our Heat Pump Home Assessment services and provide the organizational support around this year’s Thermalize Juneau campaign.

You can donate through PayPal on our donations page.

Thermalize Juneau Kickoff Event

Thanks to everyone who attended our Thermalize Juneau kickoff event on Tuesday evening. We hope you are all excited to get involved in our bulk purchasing initiative! For those who missed it, you can watch through our recording of the event here, and you can read through the presentation below.

To learn more about the Thermalize Juneau program, you can visit our Thermalize Juneau page.

To get involved in the Thermalize Juneau program, you just need to sign up to our email list here. We will keep the community updated on the latest Thermalize news through this email list.

Thanks again to everyone who listened in and helped make the event happen!

Mark Your Calendars – Thermalize Juneau Launch

Alaska Heat Smart is partnering with Renewable Juneau, Alaska Electric Light & Power, Cold Climate Housing Research Center, and Information Insights to launch Thermalize Juneau – Alaska’s first bulk purchasing initiative for heat pumps and other efficiency measures.

We are hosting a launch event next Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 7:00 PM AKST.

Listen in and learn about:
– What a Thermalize campaign is
– What a Thermalize campaign will look like in Juneau
– Why heat pumps and other energy efficiency measures are effective in Juneau
– What financing options are available
– What the next steps are in the Thermalize Juneau campaign

Register in advance for this meeting: After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.