heat pump and oil tank

29 Families Served!

The Juneau Carbon Offset Fund has just completed its 29th lower-income heat pump installation! An average of 500 gallons of heating oil is eliminated from a home with the addition of a heat pump bringing the Fund’s average annual oil elimination to 14,500 gallons! This home was far thirstier than the norm, swallowing a massive 900 plus gallons of heating oil annually, in addition to nearly 175 gallons just to heat water. We’ll be monitoring this project closely over the next 12 months to learn more about the savings incurred from the pump as well as the amount of electricity required to provide ample heat.

If you have a monthly carbon offset subscription with us, or if you just buy an occasional offset for a flight, your car, or even a child’s car, you can sit back and smile knowing that your offsetting is working! 14,500 gallons of oil are NOT being burned (and creating 324,800 pounds of annual carbon dioxide) AND these 29 families are saving an amazing amount of cash! The average Juneau family that adds a heat pump to their home saves $1,250 each year in heating bills.

Due to the extremely thirsty nature of this home, for reasons that an energy audit could perhaps uncover, the Fund opted to put a bit more money into the project than normal. It is important that the Fund balance any project’s cost with the amount of carbon to be eliminated. That’s how we’ve derived our carbon credit cost and the cost of our carbon in general. That price currently sits about 1.5 cents per pound.

The ideal location for a heat pump in this home was facing ‘conflict’ from the hot water baseboards fed from the oil boiler. With only one zone, meaning that home’s heating thermostat controlled the entire home, it was likely that the heat pump would ‘play tug of war’ with the boiler. If heat were called for in the bedrooms, the living areas would also receive boiler heat. In short, the heat pump would be unable to perform the bulk of the work which is exactly what a heat pump should be doing. At 3x the efficiency of a boiler, or even more, the heat pump needs to be the money-saving workhorse of the heating system and the ‘old horse’ oil boiler should just have to run when absolutely necessary.

So, the Fund hired Elements Plumbing and Heating to rework the zoning of the boiler’s hot water baseboards. Rick from Elements essentially eliminated the portion of the heating zone that fed heat to the living areas and the dining and kitchen spaces. Now, when the thermostat is turned up, hot water from the boiler will only serve the bedrooms and bathrooms. Typically, in this sort of scenario, roughly 75% of a home’s oil needs is eliminated. In the case of this home, that translates into nearly 825 gallons of oil!

Get involved! Offset your carbon! Join your friends, neighbors, and the local businesses
(Kensington Mine, Coppa, Sentinel Coffee, Above and Beyond Alaska Tours)
that choose the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund for this service! Start right here and be a part of the solution!

We wanted to do more and the family is interested in moving away from oil completely. Unfortunately, the electrical panel in the garage is full. Not only that, the power coming to the home, known as the electrical service, is limited. That service would need to be increased and the panel would need to be upgraded. All told, roughly $2,500 would be required in order to begin implementing additional oil-eliminating measures. If the service and panel were not lacking, the next steps would be to install a stand alone electric hot water heater and install radiant heaters in the bedrooms and bathrooms. An additional $5,000 to $6,000 is needed to make this home oil free.

If oil prices stay high, or move even higher, that sort of investment could make sense and pay off. With nearly 275 gallons still used by this home, at today’s cost of $1,450, the payoff would only take 4-5 years. After that, it would be all savings for the homeowners, in addition to the feel-good factor of being carbon free, modern, and with value added to the home. Realtors tell us that heat pumps do add value to a home and that many home buyers today are less and less interested in homes with boilers and furnaces.

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