WINCHESTER - Winchester’s Wright-Locke Farm adopted air source heating pumps for the farmhouse.
Tackling Climate Change – It’s a Community Effort
It is poignantly clear that climate change is a reality. Children are aware of what is happening to the Earth that they will call home long after the “grown-ups” are gone. What can people do to minimize the negative impacts of their lifestyles, to “draw down” the greenhouse gases that are changing the atmosphere and impacting eco-systems everywhere on Earth?
The Path Forward
In Massachusetts, according to mass.gov, greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 were 43 percent from transportation, 23 percent from residential electricity, heating and cooling, and 34 percent from all other sources, including commercial and industrial.
“The path forward requires that we transition to more renewably sourced electricity and electrify transportation, heating and cooling,” stated Susan McPhee, Winchester’s Energy Conservation Coordinator.
Renewably Sourced Electricity
Both Winchester and Arlington have begun that process by “aggregating” electricity purchasing. Both communities have negotiated group purchasing plans for residential electricity which offer greater price stability and lower cost than Eversource’s. Additionally, both communities have included more renewably-sourced electricity in the base rate than Eversource’s state-mandated rate.
Starting in January 2020, Arlington’s and Winchester’s base rates will add additional renewable electricity, well above Eversource’s 16 percent. Both towns offer a 100 percent renewable electricity option as well, which remains at a set price, unlike many of the for-profit companies that call and send mailers whose prices can change without notice.
“Switching to the 100 percent renewable electricity took me about three minutes,” reported Fritzie Nace, Winchester’s Energy and Recycling Outreach Coordinator. “Winchester and Arlington residents can call the supplier for both towns, Dynegy, at 1-866-220-5696 with their Eversource account number and simply say, ‘I’d like to switch to 100 percent renewable electricity.’ It’s that easy. Since I’m not able to have solar PV on my home, I can still make a point of purchasing only renewable electricity.”
Heat Smart – Cool Smart
Earlier this year, Arlington and Winchester began participation in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (CEC) “Heat Smart” program. The towns and local volunteer groups have partnered, along with Mass. CEC and the MA Department of Energy Resources, to bring residents the opportunity to learn about modern, clean, fossil fuel free heating and cooling technologies.
“In March, we reviewed proposals from installers who were already vetted by the Mass. Clean Energy Center,” said Ken Pruitt, Arlington’s Energy Manager and a Winchester resident. “We looked for installers with experience, good pricing and positive reviews from customers who are also good at helping residents take advantage of state and federal financial incentives.”
As part of the campaign, the Arlington volunteers held an event at the senior center which outlined discounts for seniors and people with low and middle-incomes.
“It is important to bring everyone along in this transition away from fossil fuels,” Pruitt said.
“We chose to offer air source heat pumps, also known as ‘mini-splits,’ ground-source heat pumps – or ‘geothermal,’ solar hot water systems and modern wood pellet boilers in our campaign,” said Alan Field, president of Cool Winchester, one of the volunteer organizations involved. “One system doesn’t fit all homes, so we wanted to offer a variety of technologies.”
Heat Smart Special Incentives
Each of the installers chosen offered some type of incentive for the participating towns. New England Ductless, the chosen installer for air-source heat pumps, offered a free single-zone heat pump installation when the partnered towns reached 30 heat pump installations. In August, the 13th installation was completed and the volunteers were given the opportunity to find a recipient.
“We wanted to find a way to make the donation a real benefit to the communities,” said Andy Winslow, Arlington’s Heat Smart coach. “After some brainstorming, we recognized one community resource that has been important to both communities and who had declared their own goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions.”
Wright-Locke Farm Adopts Clean Heating and Cooling
Wright-Locke Farm near the Arlington-Winchester border had already engaged New England Ductless in exploring how to move the old farmhouse off of oil heat entirely to heat and cool with air-source heat pumps.
“The Farm has a goal of working toward carbon neutral in its operations, including solar pv which will help run the heat pumps,” stated Archie McIntyre, the Executive Director.
With strong incentives for replacing oil heat, the cost of installing heat pumps for the farmhouse, the year-round home of the resident farmer and office space for staff and volunteers, was looking possible but still a challenge for the non-profit community farm and education center. With an additional discount in lieu of the actual system, New England Ductless was able to offer the system at a price the Farm could manage.
Joe Wood of New England Ductless said, “We are pleased to be able to offer a discounted system to Wright-Locke Farm through the Arlington/Winchester HeatSmart Program. The HeatSmart Program has provided us the wonderful opportunity to help these two communities get closer to their clean heating & cooling goals.”
Field, volunteer HeatSmart co-coach, was active in digging into the specifications of the system proposal.
“New England Ductless was very patient adjusting their proposal to shifting opinions and desires coming from the farm. The farm and I are very pleased with the outcome.”
“Providing a system to Wright-Locke Farm allows us to continue our company goals of giving back to local communities. This discount marks the installation of 30 heat pumps through HeatSmart. Should we reach another 30 air-source heat pumps installed through the program, we will donate a free single-zone system to a community organization or low income resident,” Wood stated.
The Arlington-Winchester HeatSmart program will close to new sign-ups on Oct. 31. Residents who have a site visit and receive a proposal will have until Jan. 31 to sign a contract for installation under the HeatSmart program. Federal tax credit incentives will decrease from 30 to 26 percent as of January, 2020 and some incentives will not be available after the program ends.
For more information go to www.HeatSmartAW.org.