Commercial Energy Workshop
Wednesday, October 24, from 3 – 5 PM
BorgWarner East Room, Tompkins County Public Library (101 E. Green St., Ithaca)
Join us at the Commercial Energy Workshop, a FREE two-hour workshop intended to introduce various programs that can help businesses save energy and money.
For more information, please see the attached workshop flyer, and RSVP to Andrea Aguirre (email@example.com) by Monday, October 15. Light refreshments will be provided.
Clean Heating and Cooling Workshop
Wednesday, October 10, from 5 – 7 PM
REV Ithaca Startup Works (314 E. State St., Ithaca)
Do you own or manage a business or rental units? Come learn how heat pumps can heat and cool your building at this FREE event. These super-efficient systems can save you money and keep your building occupants more comfortable all year long!
Presenters include representatives from Energize NY, NYSERDA, Mitsubishi, Empower Equity, and the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability. Brought to you by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, the Landlords Association of Tompkins County, and HeatSmart Tompkins.
By Jonathan Comstock
Beneficial electrification* needs to become a familiar household concept just like the value of renewable energy. Renewable energy comes from sources that are self-renewing, like solar, wind and hydropower. But merely converting our current electric use to renewably sourced electricity is not enough. We also need to eliminate the current reliance on fossil fuels in our transportation and home heating systems because they account for the vast majority of our energy use.
The point is that we have excellent opportunities to adopt superior electric technologies for transportation and to heat and cool our homes. When we do this, our total electric use will go up. But our total energy use will drop substantially because of the elimination of fossil fuel use and the tremendous increases in energy efficiency as we shift to these modern electric technologies.
Bryan Roy’s “Signs of Sustainability” article went into considerable depth on electric vehicles and the growing infrastructure to support them in Tompkins County. If you missed it, check it out online.
Now, let’s focus on the most substantial use of energy directly within the home, which is — home heating and cooling.
A great place to start is in upgrading the insulation and air-sealing of a home.
A much more significant percentage than necessary of the energy used in heating and cooling is simply wasted due to the inefficiency of the building itself to retain heat. Although modern building codes are much improved, many older homes in Tompkins County were often built with minimal thought for building efficiency. This inefficiency results in a tremendous waste of money in unnecessary heating and cooling and also poor comfort due to cold spots and drafts.
Once you are satisfied with the insulation of your home, the next step is to change the heating system itself. Wood and pellet stoves are potentially economical and renewable since the biomass can regrow. For many, this may be a good option. Nonetheless, they are less scalable than heat pumps and still have all the issues of air quality associated with burning stuff inside your home. Heat pumps, with no combustion at all in your basement, bedrooms or living room, are simply the cleanest and healthiest option available.
One of the obstacles people run into, however, is their lack of familiarity with heat pump technologies.
You may be surprised to know you already have a heat pump in your home. You grew up with it, rely on it, and trust it without any doubts. It’s called a refrigerator. Heat pumps, whether air source or ground source varieties, all use that same basic process with which you already feel comfortable.
But obstacles may still exist because you do not have a cherished brand or feel confident that you know what features are essential and what is the best equipment for your budget. One solution to this problem is the HeatSmart Tompkins program. HeatSmart is a local, non-profit, and volunteer-led program in which residents help other residents by pulling together and sharing some simple what-you-need-to-know information. HeatSmart will walk you through the options and point the way towards vetted equipment and installers.
The best way to take advantage of this resource is to come to one of the HeatSmart public meetings.
You can find the full schedule and all the time and location details on the website.
If you haven’t any experience with heat pumps for heating and cooling, you may want to attend some HeatSmart tours where you can meet and talk to people, just like you, only they recently made the leap. Find out how they feel about the process and the final result. The full tour schedule is also on the website.
Finally, on the website you can also find a heating news blog, various fact sheets and a place to enroll in the HeatSmart program, which costs nothing and carries no obligation. Especially if your home is heated with a fuel like heating oil or propane, you will find that you not only come out ahead with greater comfort and healthier home, but you can also save quite a bit of money.
Jonathan Comstock is the HeatSmart Tompkins Program Director.
A version of this article was originally published in the Tompkins Weekly.
*Beneficial electrification: is a term for replacing direct fossil fuel use (e.g., propane, heating oil, gasoline) with electricity in a way that reduces overall emissions and energy costs. There are many opportunities across the residential and commercial sectors. This can include switching to an electric vehicle or an electric heating system – as long as the end-user and the environment both benefit. Source: Environmental and Energy Study Institute
The 2018 HeatSmart campaign begins on Thursday, August 9 with an information session at the New Brooktondale Firehall (786 Valley Road in Caroline). Additional community meetings will be offered throughout Tompkins County and surrounding areas. For the latest schedule, visit our Community Meeting page.
“Home heating and cooling is by far the largest use of energy in Tompkins County homes,” said HeatSmart program director Jonathan Comstock. “It’s also one of the major expenses. Heat pumps bring greater comfort during all seasons, providing warm and even temperatures in the winter and air conditioning and dehumidification in the summer. For residents who heat their homes with expensive fuels, it can also bring substantial savings.”
Water heating is also a major energy user, Comstock said, and here, too, heat pumps can provide benefits – and savings. Stand-alone air source heat pump hot water heaters can replace domestic gas or electric water heaters and often provide an excellent return on investment. Ground source heat pump systems used for space heating can also provide hot water.
The information meetings give residents a chance to learn about heat pump technology and to meet representatives of three vetted installers – Halco, NP Environmental and Standard Insulating. If residents like what they hear, they can schedule a home energy assessment with no obligation.
“Our role is really education,” Comstock said. “People are curious about heat pumps, and about other measures they can take to save energy. But it can be confusing without a little help.”
Many of last year’s participants ended up making home sealing and insulation improvements without installing heat pumps, he said. He expects some of them to come back this year to take the next step.
“Many people are eager to install ground source heat pumps, but they’ve been waiting for more affordable equipment and installation costs,” said Brian Eden, Board Chair of Solar Tompkins, the local nonprofit sponsoring the HeatSmart program. “The wait is over! This year there are better state and federal incentives than ever before, and now is the best time ever to install one of these super-energy-efficient, super-economical systems.”
A few words from our 2018 installer partners
“The NP Environmental team is excited to be a part of this wonderful program in Tompkins County for three years running," said owner Nick Pryputniewicz. "2018 offers the best incentives ever to go geothermal, our recent partnership with Dandelion Energy will help bring this sustainable technology to more homeowners in the region. Looking forward to seeing everyone at an upcoming meeting.”
“Halco is very excited to be an ongoing participating Installer in HeatSmart Tompkins’ 3rd campaign,” said company owner Hal Smith. “We are looking forward to a great year as a company located in and serving Tompkins County. The time has never been better. We look forward to visiting with you at a HeatSmart meeting!”
“Heat pump adoption is an essential part of Tompkins County’s Energy Road Map,” said Gloria Andrea Aguirre, senior planner and energy specialist at Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability. “But it takes grassroots energy to make these changes actually happen. That is why Tompkins County has been a strong supporter of this program since its inception.”
The HeatSmart approach is now spreading across the Northeast, with a statewide HeatSmart group in Massachusetts and others springing up in communities across NY State, Comstock said. But its roots are in Tompkins County. “First with the Solarize movement, now with HeatSmart, community members here in Tompkins County have been at the forefront of providing benefits for Tompkins County residents,” he said.
HeatSmart is contributing trivia questions for the August 3rd trivia night at Brookton's Market. Come for a beer and test your HeatSmarts!
Brookton's Market is located at:
491 Brooktondale Rd, Brooktondale, NY 14817
Are you interested in being one of our 2018 installer partners?
Download our 2018 RFP.
Home energy program serves as model for communities across state
The HeatSmart home energy program, which helps Tompkins County homeowners connect with local heating and cooling contractors, closes its 2017 season with a public information session at The Space @ Greenstar on Tuesday, May 30, at 6 p.m.
“If you’ve been meaning to get to a meeting, this is your chance,” said program director Jonathan Comstock. “It’s a great way to fight global warming while making your household more comfortable year-round.”
A program of the local nonprofit Solar Tompkins, HeatSmart works to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in Tompkins County by promoting home sealing, insulation, and super-efficient heat pump systems. In this area, roughly 75 percent of home energy use goes to heating and cooling. Most of that energy is provided by fossil fuels.
Heat pumps use electricity to move heat from one place to another, providing warmth in the winter and cooling in the summer. By switching from traditional furnaces and air conditioners, homeowners with access to solar or wind power can drastically reduce their carbon footprints.
HeatSmart has held 20 community meetings so far this year in all ten of the county’s municipalities. The meetings allow homeowners to learn about heat pumps and meet three vetted installers – Halco, NP Environmental, and Snug Planet – with no obligation. The program is being used as a model for similar efforts across the state.
The May 30 event will begin at 6 p.m. with free wine tasting organized by Six Mile Creek Vineyard. The information session will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Space @ Greenstar is located at 700 W. Buffalo St. in Ithaca.
In order to help us plan for the event registration is helpful, but not required.
With funding from the Park Foundation and CCETC, Taitem engineering just released a very exciting report comparing energy use, carbon emissions, and cost for furnaces versus heat pumps. In new construction, the ASHP were even more cost effective than a gas furnace. Both air source and ground source heat pumps produce huge reductions in energy use and emissions.
What your neighbors are saying about HeatSmart...
HeatSmart Installer: Halco
HeatSmart Installer: NP Environmental
HeatSmart Installer: Snug Planet
HeatSmart Program Director Jonathon Comstock chats with Lee Rayburn of WHCU on the Morning Newswatch.
Thanks to Liz Thomas for a great opinion piece in the Ithaca Journal! Even old farmhouses can join in the transition to clean energy.
HeatSmart program offers low-cost efficiency
by Elizabeth Thomas
Most people have noticed or believe climate change to be an issue of concern, and in this era, it is doubtful the federal government will be working to find renewable energies to help stem greenhouse gas production.
We are fortunate in Tompkins County to have assistance through the HeatSmart program to find more efficient ways to heat homes. Read more
HeatSmart volunteers gather at Stewart Park to pick up yard signs and celebrate the start of the program's second season. Photo by Kathleen Gifford. (For high resolution version of image click here)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Jonathan Comstock, program director
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel 607-351-1752
Now in its second year, HeatSmart program to serve as model for communities across state
ITHACA – A group of Tompkins County residents is launching a series of community meetings to help homeowners sort through their options for curbing their homes’ energy appetites through sealing, insulation, and high-efficiency heat pumps.
The HeatSmart program begins its second season on February 21 with an information session at the Brooktondale Community Center in Caroline. It is the first of 19 open community meetings around the county offered by the nonprofit group Solar Tompkins. For a complete schedule, visit SolarTompkins.org.