Renewable Juneau’s Carbon Offset Fund (JCOF) completed carbon elimination heat pump installations 11 and 12 last week! Each of these two homes will avoid burning nearly 500 gallons of home heating fuel, adding 11 tons of eliminated carbon to JCOF’s 68 annual ton total.
The home of the Little family, in the Thunder Mountain Mobile Park, is JCOF’s first manufactured home heat pump installation. Mr. LIttle was beyond thankful upon qualifying. A tour van driver in the summer, Mr. Little lost all summer income as a result of the pandemic-forced shutdown of summer tourism. Knowing that his home heating bills from here on out will be nearly halved provides tremendous relief for his family.
As is the case with heat pump installations, we learned a few new things with this one. A forced air furnace has heated Mr. Little’s 1000 square foot home. Hot water comes from an electric hot water heater. In order to maximize the benefits of oil reduction with the heat pump, we had to move the furnace thermostat from the main living area into a back bedroom. This will eliminate competition between the furnace and the heat pump. These back rooms will receive furnace heat during cold winter periods if needed. In addition, Mr. Little will cover the floor heat vents in the main living spaces to force furnace heat to those spaces not directly impacted by the heat pump, again, only if needed. We’ll stay in touch with Mr. Little to see how this situation works out and to monitor what oil he needs, if any.
The Valley’s Smith family home relied heavily on an oil boiler and excessive use of small space heaters. Mrs. Smith believed that using space heaters was less costly than running her boiler. The combination of oil heat and ‘backfilling’ with space heaters put Mrs. Smith’s utility bills through the roof! I visited her home only to find that the newly-installed heat pump was off and space heaters were on. Mrs. Smith assumed that she would just turn the pump on when she needed it. Both Mrs. Smith and Mr. Little were in need of a few pointers about heat pump operation and behavior.
Heat Pump Pointers
Renewable Juneau board members have learned that education is essential for new heat pump owners. (Visit our Heat Pump page for more tips and good heat pump reads.) The inside fan will run, and run, and run, continually filtering and moving warm air about the home. This is normal, desirable, and not expensive. The continued running of the fan alarmed both families and raised concerns about costs. Since the heat pump is just moving heat and not creating it, cost of operation is very low. I instructed them both to ‘set it and forget it’, putting the fan in AUTO mode and setting the heating mode to HEAT, at the desired room temperature. This is the ideal heat pump setting. It is easy, inexpensive, low maintenance and will push heat into spaces that can seem far away from the air handler.
A great document that we share with our successful JCOF applicants is our list of 7 Ways to Not Use A Heat Pump. We encourage you to check it out and see how you may be able to improve how you use your heat pump!
Can You Help the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund?
The Juneau Carbon Offset Fund could really use your help! The summer’s revenues and carbon offset sales have plummeted. And, our applicant pool has nearly dried up. If you are late to join the carbon offset club, we urge you to take a look at the options that we offer for local carbon footprint reduction. And, if you know a family that may qualify for our program, we urge you to share it with them. A qualifying family must earn 80% of median area income or less and must burn oil as their primary heat source.