Saving $$$, Eliminating Carbon

Another valley family has their heat pump on and their oil boiler off! Finally! This Juneau Carbon Offset Fund project has taken a very long time and today, it’s pretty much complete!

Juneau’s contractors, on all fronts, have been tremendously backlogged over the past year or more. Work delays have become commonplace and months can pass before an approved project may be completed. Businesses are scrambling to find help, schedules are overflowing, and supplies are hard to get and take weeks or even months to arrive. One local contractor told me recently that his business has to turn away work nearly every single day. They just have too much to do and too few to do it. But, Pleasants Plumbing and ALCAN Electric have Megan and Eric’s heat pump up and going and will come back in late May to make improvements to the domestic hot water system in this valley home.

Megan and Eric and their baby, were approved for Juneau Carbon Offset Fund (JCOF) heat pump assistance in December. This has not been an easy road for them. Their early 80’s-era home was built with scant electrical service, normal for the 70s and 80s (125 amp service), meaning that their tiny electrical panel could not accommodate a new circuit for a heat pump. This meant as well that the prospect of an oil-eliminating electric hot water heater was off the table due to lack of panel space. Their home’s hot water is heated by a very inefficient method that utilizes a coil in boiler. With a baby in the house, hot water use will be on the rise, requiring more oil as time passes, raising already high utility bills.

The JCOF Advisory Committee made the decision to not only approve the installation of a heat pump to eliminate nearly 450 gallons of annual heating oil, but to allocate a generous $1000 donation from the Quaker Earthcare Witness Minigrant Committee towards an electrical service upgrade and the installation of a stand-alone electric hot water heater. This bonus should eliminate an additional 130 or more annual gallons of heating oil. With these two upgrades, nearly $1000 will be saved annually at today’s oil prices, while preventing the creation of roughly 11,000 annual pounds of carbon dioxide.

Is your hot water ‘carbon heavy’?

Do you have a stand alone electric hot water tank? Do both electricity and oil heat your water? Do you have an indirect hot water holding tank? Is there no tank and just a coil within the boiler? On demand? Maybe you have no idea, which is normal! There are numerous options and with oil at $4/gallon, price parity with electrical rates is pretty much achieved. If you are not relying on a stand alone electric hot water heater, your hot water may be ‘carbon heavy’. It may be reliant on oil to make it dish, laundry, and shower ready. While it may not be much of a money-saving upgrade, unless fuel prices continue to climb, electrifying your domestic hot water system can have large annual carbon savings. The standard statistical figure in use is roughly 46 gallons of oil per individual per household per year. A family of four will burn about 184 gallons of oil annually, at a cost of $736, just under the cost of installing an electric hot water heater!

HERE is an older, but detailed, explanation of hot water heating that focuses on the all-too-common inefficient boiler coil.

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