Davis' trailer

#15 Pumping Heat!

Renewable Juneau is proud to announce that the 15th heat pump from our Juneau Carbon Offset Fund (JCOF) is, as our primary installer likes to say, “pumping heat!”

The Davis family of the Thunder Mountain trailer park is the second trailer in the park to benefit from the hundreds of individuals who have purchased carbon offsets from JCOF. After just a few days of operating the pump, the Davis’ are thrilled. Their oil furnace is off and the heat pump, set to 64 degrees, has the temp up to near 70 throughout the trailer. Even the power-hungry electric space heater under Mrs. Davis’ desk is no longer adding to their bills.

It would be an understatement to say that the Davis’ are looking forward to their reduced heating bills. Mr. Davis was badly injured in a work-related accident in 2018. Three surgeries and a year and a half of recovery have been a massive setback for Mr. Davis. On top of this work-free period, the pandemic put the brakes on his side business of gun repair and sales. Essentially, these last couple of years have been an economic disaster for the Davis family.

Trailer Challenges

Driving through the Thunder Mountain Trailer Park to the Davis place, I passed dozens of various sizes and shapes of homes. Nearly every one features a 275 gallon fuel tank outside, most running their carbon-rich juice into an oil-burning furnace. Huge potential exists in these high density neighborhoods for heat pumps to not only save a pile of money, but to eliminate a massive outpouring of carbon emissions.

Trailers aren’t easy though and they can present some unique challenges. Both of the trailers we’ve worked with to date have just one heating zone. To allow the heat pump to perform the bulk of the work, we move the thermostat from the main living area to a back bedroom, allowing the heat pump to provide as much heat as possible to the common areas. If needed, the furnace can supplement heat to the back bedrooms. Proper insulation and solid skirting are essential around the perimeter. Most of the water and sewer piping is underneath and insulation, as well as heat tape, can be critical to assure no cold weather freezing issues.

Electrical Concerns

Subpar electrical panels and power service plague many of these homes. A panel may not have the capacity to support a heat pump or the panel may not even up to local code requirements. Both of these situations can be costly to correct and will cause an applicant to not qualify for a JCOF heat pump.

We’ve recently had to deny one trailer applicant and may have to soon deny another. The former applicant’s trailer had single pane windows, leaky doors and drafty vents, and nearly no insulation. The owner has been heating with a single kerosene burner and is struggling to get by on $14,000 annually. Adding a heat pump to this very inefficient home would have caused monthly electric bills to rise to an unpayable level. Needless to say, this was not an easy applicant to deny. The latter applicant is facing the potential costs of a full electrical panel replacement. Existing potential code violations, aluminum conductors, and inadequate capacity will not allow for the additional load of a heat pump. JCOF cannot fund such an upgrade as it would toss our balance of project cost to oil elimination out the door!

Rural Cap Assistance

These homeowners are perfect candidates for the Rural Alaska Community Action Program, a private, statewide, nonprofit organization working to improve the quality of life for low-income Alaskans. The Juneau division of RurAL CAP presently has funding and an application for local energy efficiency and weatherization assistance is here.

Donate or Purchase Carbon Offsets Today

Thank you for supporting the mission and goals of Renewable Juneau’s Carbon Offset Fund!
100% of your offset purchase or donation will directly fund projects like the Davis’, lowering heating costs for lower income families and eliminating carbon from the replacement of oil heat with ultra-efficient renewable energy heat.

Visit the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund store here to get started!

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