Alaska Heat Smart FAQ

undefined Click here to see Renewable Juneau’s guide to heat pumps

What does Alaska Heat Smart do?

-Most people have the same questions and decisions to make when it comes to heat pumps. We’re here to answer those questions for you and help you make an informed decision. Our goal is to increase the rate of heat pump installations by freeing up contractors to do more installations instead of the initial home visits. Alaska Heat Smart is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. All our services are free. Click here to see our partners and sponsors.

Why install a Heat Pump?

-Heat Pumps use less energy to provide heat, which saves homeowners 30%-70% annually on their energy bills. They also run on electricity instead of fossil fuels, so the units produce no carbon pollution.

Who installs heat pumps in Juneau?

Our list of known heat pump installers.

What do heat pumps do?

-The air-to-air units that most people are installing take heat from even really cold air outside, concentrate it, and then transfer it into your home via an internal blower. In practice, it’s a bit like having a Toyostove that runs off air and electricity.

How do heat pumps work?

-Compression. Know how your fridge produces outside heat as a byproduct of keeping itself cold? It’s essentially that process but in reverse. There’s an outdoor unit with a fan that compresses refrigerant and sends it through an umbilical to your indoor unit. That indoor unit takes in indoor air, allows the refrigerant to expand -transferring the heat to the air- and then blows the warmed air back into the room. Because you’re only moving and concentrating heat instead of creating it, the units are tremendously efficient. You’re only paying for the electric to run a compressor and a fan.

Is the refrigerant in heat pumps counter-productive to limiting greenhouse gasses?

-Just like the refrigerator in your kitchen, heat pumps contain refrigerant gas that needs to be disposed of properly at the end of your unit’s lifecycle. While the R-410a gas in your heat pump is a greenhouse gas with 1,924 times the global warming potential of CO2, the benefit of the decrease in oil use puts us all ahead. The 2 lbs of refrigerant in your heat pump has the warming potential of around 1,924 x 2 = 3,848 lbs of CO2. But, over a 15-year lifespan, a typical amount of annual oil displacement from using a heat pump might be 500 gallons per year.  One gallon of heating oil produces 22 lbs of CO2 (ignoring all of the CO2 associated with extracting, processing, and transporting it).  So on an annual basis, using the heat pump will displace the emission of 11,000 lbs of CO2.  Over the 15 year life of that heat pump it will have prevented the emission of 165,000 lbs of CO2.  That’s a 43:1 benefit ratio – and only applicable in the unlikely event that all you refrigerant leaks out.