By switching to heat pumps, residents can conserve energy and witness a considerable drop in their utility bills while efficiently heating and cooling their homes, according to the leaders of the Energy Smart Eastside campaign.
It’s also a way for community members to support the climate action goals of the cities involved in the campaign: Mercer Island, Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland and Redmond, which have partnered with nonprofit Spark Northwest to help hasten the transition to clean energy through their robust heat pump campaign.
The cities and Spark Northwest launched the joint effort in July and rolled out their fifth one-hour free online community workshop on Sept. 27 to discuss heat pump technology, utility incentives and financing opportunities. Due to immense interest in the webinars — nearly 400 people have attended the events thus far — they are planning to add some more workshops soon, according to Ross Freeman, who oversees the city of Mercer Island’s sustainability programs. He added that 60 Mercer Island residents have viewed the webinars.
Regarding the heat pumps, Amy Bettle of Spark Northwest said at the latest workshop: “It is electric heating, so as our energy systems move off of fossil fuels and onto more renewables like hydro and solar and wind, we can expect that this energy will be cleaner as time moves forward, therefore, we’ll be experiencing less carbon emissions.”
The pumps are quiet and provide even, consistent heating and cooling to different zones in the home to save energy, are durable and simple to maintain and can last from between 10-20 years, Bettle added. Chris Baisch of Home Comfort Alliance said heat pumps are simple for his employees to install, with many systems featuring one indoor and one outdoor unit.
Freeman said that about half of the total workshop attendees scheduled their free site assessments and the first installation should begin some time in October.
Residents of the campaign’s five cities are eligible to receive a $500 discount off the retail price of heat pumps on a qualified products list through the Energy Smart Eastside program. Also, current Puget Sound Energy (PSE) electric customers can inquire about receiving rebates from $300-$2,400 depending on what source of heating they’re upgrading from to heat pumps and other factors, according to Megan Lacy of PSE.
On the equity front, with the cities aiming to bring a plethora of residents into the clean energy fold, “There’s a concerted joint effort between the five cities to provide 100% cost coverage to select affordable housing units,” Bettle said.
“Our regional heat pump program has only been running for two months, but it’s already revealed how interested the public is in this topic,” said Freeman. “We’re pleased that over 60 homes on Mercer Island are now exploring this efficient heating and cooling solution.”
While utilizing heat pumps is the campaign’s main focus, Bettle said that people can also save energy through myriad actions, such as turning off lights when they exit a room, taking shorter showers, shutting windows and doors when not using a room that requires air flow and more.
For more information on upcoming workshops, visit https://www.energysmarteastside.org/