Supporting Energy Efficiency through Heat Pumps

What is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is an energy efficient heating system that many of AP&T’s customers are installing in their homes, business, and community facilities. A heat pump works like an “air conditioner in reverse” – it uses a refrigeration cycle to extract heat from a cold space (outdoors) and move it indoors. Heat pumps use electricity to run a compressor and fan motors, but for every 1 unit of energy used to operate the system over the heating season, more than 3 units of heat energy are delivered into the home.

Why Make the Change?

Many of AP&T’s customers on Prince of Wales Island have been switching to heat pumps to obtain a variety of benefits:

  • Potential for cost-savings and more predictable pricing for home heating bills.
  • Increased energy efficiency, and use of cleaner renewable energy.
  • Eliminates the need for on-site fuel storage and delivery, and associated risks of spills, theft, etc.
  • More affordable maintenance.
  • Provides air conditioning in the summer.

Today’s heat pumps operate with a high degree of efficiency, even in very cold temperatures. In fact, the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) strongly recommends heat pumps for use in Southeast Alaska.

How Do I Buy One and Have it Installed?

Most mechanical contractors will be able to help you select and install an air-source heat pump. There are various contractors active on Prince of Wales to choose from. Mechanical contractors in Ketchikan may also be able to perform installations when they are on Prince of Wales for other jobs. You might also considering joining with your neighbors to have numerous installations done by a contractor during the same visit to POW.

AP&T has put together a referral list, to help connect you with capable mechanical contractors. (Let us know if there is anyone else we should add!)

List of Heat Pump Vendors / InstallersPhone NumberLocation
Ocean Air Contracting360.861.8532Washington
Prince of Wales Island Electric and Repair907.755.2443Prince of Wales
Tongass Electric907.329.2054Prince of Wales
Ketchikan Dray907.225.3172Ketchikan
Ketchikan Mechanical907.225.9466Ketchikan
Schmolck Mechanical907.225.6648Ketchikan
Home Tech907.225.5129Ketchikan
Northern Refrigeration907.523.2700Juneau
Channel Electric (Electrical Connections)907.225.9725Prince of Wales

How Can I Pay for an Installation?

Local banks are able to provide affordable financing in support of heat pump conversions. Financing allows consumers to begin to immediately realize the benefits associated with heat pump conversions, without having to make a large up-front investment of cash.

The following banks are willing and able to make loans for heat pump conversions on Prince of Wales Island:

Financing OptionsPhone NumberLocation
Wells Fargo907.826.3040Prince of Wales
First Bank907.826.3254Prince of Wales
Key Bank844.433.2068Ketchikan
Northrim Bank907.225.4545Ketchikan
Tongass Federal Credit Union907.755.2800Klawock
Tongass Federal Credit Union907.828.8880Thorne Bay
Alaska USA Federal Credit Union907.247.7600Ketchikan

How Much Money Will I Save?

That is a question which AP&T cannot easily answer, and which will differ for each consumer. How much money you will save depends on the age/efficiency of your old heating system, your home heating habits, the cost of fuel (which changes over time), the type and cost of your new system, and more.

Some of our customers have reported they are saving 25% to 50%, depending on the cost of oil. Others have indicated that as long as the cost of heating oil is over $2.00 / gallon, their heat pump is saving them money. However, AP&T strongly encourages our customers to do their own research and analysis based on their individual circumstances. This might include getting quotes from an installer, and examining your home energy bills and heating costs.

Heat Pump FAQ

Some commonly asked questions related to heat pumps.

What is a heat pump?

A heat pump is a type of high-efficiency electrical heating system that many of AP&T’s customers are installing in their homes, business, and community facilities.

You can think of a heat pump a lot like an “air conditioner in reverse” – it uses a very similar refrigeration-type cycle to extract heat from a cold space (outdoors) and move it indoors.  In fact, heat pumps typically have the capability of functioning as air conditioners in the summer, which is a nice benefit if you don’t already own an air conditioner.

How much money will I save if I switch to a heat pump?

That is a question which AP&T cannot easily answer, and which will differ for each consumer.  How much money you save will ultimately depend on the age/efficiency of your old heating system, your home heating habits, the cost of fuel (which changes over time), the type and cost of your new system, and more.

Some of our customers have reported they are saving 25% to 50%, depending on the cost of oil.  Others have indicated that as long as the cost of heating oil is over $2 / gallon, their heat pump is saving them money.   Air source heat pumps tend to be about twice as efficient as resistance space heaters.  However, AP&T strongly encourages our customers to do their own research and analysis based on their individual circumstances.

What are the other benefits of heat pumps besides energy efficiency and cost-savings?
  • Lower maintenance costs.
  • Heat pumps provide air conditioning in the summer time.
  • Eliminates the risks associated with storing and transferring fuel on your property.
  • Eliminates the possibility of theft of fuel, especially from common targets like public facilities, remote properties, seasonal cabins, etc.
  • No need to arrange fuel deliveries, or worry about whether or not the fuel truck can make it down your road in the winter.
  • Instead, electrical “fuel” is delivered over the power lines as it is needed.
  • Heat pumps are usually quieter, and do not give off smells.
  • More predictable heating costs. The price of heating oil is extremely volatile, and subject to drastic fluctuations due to geopolitical events.
  • Most heat pump equipment is located outside, freeing up more space in your home.
  • Shop local! Heat pumps use clean energy which is produced mostly from hydropower projects on Prince of Wales Island, rather than oil refineries.
  • Heat pumps which use clean hydropower are a green energy solution which is better for the environment, and air quality.
  • Heat pumps help us to use Prince of Wales’ clean, renewable hydropower in the most efficient manner possible to meet our energy needs.
  • High degree of programmability and control.

How much do they cost, and where can I get one?

The cost depends on the size of your home or facility, and your heating requirements. Generally, most mechanical contractors would be able to help you buy and install a heat pump.

AP&T has put together a list of local vendors and installers who can help you identify a properly-sized unit, and provide a cost estimate.

 

List of Heat Pump Vendors / InstallersPhone NumberLocation
Ocean Air Contracting360.861.8532Washington
Prince of Wales Island Electric and Repair907.755.2443Prince of Wales
Tongass Electric907.329.2054Prince of Wales
Ketchikan Dray907.225.3172Ketchikan
Ketchikan Mechanical907.225.9466Ketchikan
Schmolck Mechanical907.225.6648Ketchikan
Home Tech907.225.5129Ketchikan
Northern Refrigeration907.523.2700Juneau
Channel Electric (Electrical Connections)907.225.9725Prince of Wales
Do heat pumps work in Alaska? It’s cold as a dog’s nose here.

Yes! In fact, many of today’s heat pumps are even able to operate effectively at below-freezing temperatures. Even when temperatures plummet, the cold outdoor air still contains heat that can be “stepped up” by your heat pump and delivered to your home. There are also ground-source heat pumps, which obtain warmth from the ground.

The Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) strongly recommends heat pumps for use in Southeast Alaska.

LEARN MORE FROM CCHRC

Does AP&T use heat pumps?

Yes – AP&T has installed both air-source and ground-source heat pumps at many of facilities on Prince of Wales, including our Craig and Klawock offices.  We see heat pump technology as a more affordable and energy efficient technology, which is better for our bottom line, and for the environment.

How can I get money to pay for a heat pump conversion?

Local banks and credit unions offer loans for home improvements, which can help fund a conversion.  We suggest you check with banks in your area to find out what type of interest rate you might receive.

While the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) is no longer offering rebates for residential consumers, you may qualify for some of their other low interest financing options.

LEARN MORE ABOUT AHFC ENERGY PROGRAMS

Community facilities like schools and medical facilities, and non-profit organizations may be able to seek grant funds to help pay for conversions.

Business may be able to for grants up to 25% of the cost of a heat pump, using USDA’s Rural Energy for America program.