Four new families served!
Four additional Juneau households are the latest recipients of Renewable Juneau’s Carbon Offset Fund air source heat pumps. In total, these four families will no longer need an annual volume of 2350 gallons of diesel heating fuel and combined should realize a combined home heating cost savings of over $6000. Yearly!
Family Number One
Panhandle Heat Pumps and ALCAN Electric rose to the challenge with one of these four families and deserve a huge shout out. With their schedules full, staff booked out for weeks, and supplies tight, these two star contractors jumped on the home of a single mom and daughter whose boiler decided to die shortly after their application for assistance. In just over a month’s time, the home’s electrical system was upgraded and a heat pump installed. The weeks of extra layers and huddling in blankets were over.
Their aging boiler went belly up before Juneau’s warmer weather began, when nights were still dipping into the 30’s. The Fund delivered two new space heaters to the mother and daughter in an effort to provide some measure of heat. Upon further inspection, it was obvious that this home had additional needs aside from heat. Electrical panel issues, poor insulation, and moisture concerns were all evident. We quickly realized that this home is an ideal candidate for the developing Alaska Heat Smart Healthy Homes program (details coming soon on the Heat Smart website). But, with the Healthy Homes program in development mode, it would be unable to serve this home until late summer at the earliest. This is where Alaska Heat Smart partner Renewable Juneau stepped in with its Carbon Offset Fund. Later this fall, Healthy Homes can tackle the home’s other needs.
A 1972 home like this typically has a minimal amount of electricity run to it. Luckily, an AELP inspection informed us that while the panel could only handle 125 amps, 200 amps were actually running to the main breakers. 125 amps can be used up pretty quickly so the presence of 200 was a relief. With only panel and meter work required, a heat pump and individual room heaters would not depend on a costly ‘service upgrade’ from the power utility. Combining a hot water heater, a heating system, stove, lights, washer / dryer, and more can use up that power load quickly. Many new homes today are built with up to 400 amps of service, enough to charge an EV, run a heat pump, and drive all the modern amenities of today’s fully electrified homes. Jumping ahead, ALCAN got right to it and completed the needed electrical upgrades and Panhandle Heat Pumps bumped this project way up its busy list and had the heat pump up and running in record time.
Families Two and Three
While the Fund was tackling this project, 13 others applicants were jumping through the application hoops. Three of those 13 are now complete. Only one of these would be considered a simple oil-eliminating and cost-saving job – shut down the Monitor stoves and install a heat pump. The other two had unique features and needs, items that the Fund chose to tackle in an effort to eliminate an even greater quantity of annual diesel fuel.
The third family, in addition to installing a heat pump, had Larry’s Plumbing separate their hot water heater from their oil boiler. Roughly 46 gallons of oil are used annually per person to heat water. This simple job, made possible by the fact that their water heater could also operate solely on electricity, will eliminate nearly 180 annual gallons of diesel. This is often a very cost-effective way to lower a home’s oil needs.
The fourth home featured only one heating zone, meaning that the oil boiler would heat every room in the house when heat was called for. Per room control of temperature was not an option. A very common and practical heat pump solution is to install the indoor air handler(s) in the primary living spaces where most of the heat is called for. For this home, the heat pump would be competing with the boiler, the pump’s clean and inexpensive heat essentially not allowing the boiler to heat bedrooms and bathrooms when needed. Elements Plumbing and Heating came in and bypassed the heating hydronics of the common area, essentially isolating the back spaces. Now, the heat pump can heat the majority of the home and when needed, the boiler can kick in for heat when and where needed.
Like the third home in this update, its domestic hot water is heated by the boiler. But, in this case, there is no stand-alone hot water tank. So, all summer long, a call for hot water will fire up the diesel, a terrifically inefficient method of heating water, especially with today’s oil prices. We’ll have to wait and see if the power needs of the heat pump will allow the addition of an electrical circuit to the panel and will allow an electric hot water heater to be added. If so, for about $1000, a new electric hot water heater will displace the need for an additional 200 gallons of fuel. If not, the project will be much more expensive and may be cost prohibitive.
None of these money saving and carbon eliminating projects would be possible without the responsible carbon offsetting of our subscribers, visitors, and supportive local businesses. We urge you to support them as we recognize their positive impact on our local families and our local environment. Their action also keeps money circulating in Juneau while helping to support and grow our local contractor workforce and services. Kensington Mine’s recent offset activity with the Fund has helped to make these latest projects possible!