Massachusetts needs to convert 100,000 homes a year to electric heating. Real Number – 461 – Boston Globe

Massachusetts Climate Policy Director Eugenia Gibbon said, “We are nine years old by 2030, and we are beginning to scratch the ground in terms of where we work and where we need to go.” “More, we have to work fast. The world is on fire – I don’t know how to say anything else. ”

Massachusetts emissions are about one-third to more than 2 million Buildings. The state says switching to electric sources eliminating those emissions — and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources such as wind, hydropower, and solar — is crucial to achieving net zero emissions in a timely manner. Between 2021 and 2030, the state estimates that 1 million residential heating systems will end their service life – each of which can be replaced by electric fossil fuels.

Under the state’s clean energy and climate plan, heat pumps, which use electricity to heat and cool buildings under the 2030 plan, are the best tools to power homes. But pure power Experts and advocates say there are many roadblocks, including high costs, consumer distrust, and a lack of technology among many heating contractors.

One of the state’s largest energy saving programs could be Mass. The program, which is supplemented by utility bills and is run by utility companies, including gas suppliers, offers homeowners a discount on the purchase of certain energy-saving devices. Although Mass Save seeks to support the state’s climate goals, advocates say it has failed to fully support domestic electrification, and in some cases seems to be actively discouraging.

According to a recent United Nations climate report, the time is running out. Since the 19th century, the planet has already warmed to a temperature of about 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit[1.1 ° C]and even this summer, with severe weather forecasts, the effects can be devastating. Although we are accelerating climate change, the planet is getting warmer, the United Nations says. How much heat will be determined by current measures to stop greenhouse gas emissions – especially by fossil fuels.

Unlike many other states and even states, Massachusetts has a law requiring zero emissions by 2050. But goal setting and achievement are two different things, and failure to do so now can lead to one. Disruption on the road – or making it impossible to achieve the goal.

“We are missing out on the orders we want to reach,” said Cameron Peterson, director of clean energy at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

‘The world is on fire – I don’t know how to say anything else.’

Massachusetts Climate Policy Director Eugenia Gibbon for Health Care

With Mass Savings, Refusal is clearly hidden. Some homeowners have said that Mass Save’s contractors have not removed or accepted their fossil fuel systems. All-electric going.

In addition, the list of heat pumps eligible for Mass Save offers includes equipment that is not specifically designed for cold weather. And even the 2021 form, which requires homeowners to offer discounts on heat pumps, includes this note:

A.D. With less than half of the 461 total electricity conversions in 2020, Mass Save. The rest came from programs sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Department of Energy Resources. Both departments offer programs to help homeowners purchase heat pumps. Although there have been some additional electricity changes that year, experts say that this number may be small.

Critics of the slowdown in Massachusetts are now coming to the conclusion that the 20-year-old mass savings program is coming to an end. It may not be about increasing energy efficiency The program is now the best vehicle to fight climate change.

“It is difficult to build on the importance of new programs on old programs,” says Matt Ruteika, director of architecture at the Akkadian Center for Pure Energy.

Highlights from the 2021 Residential Central A / C and Central Heat Pump Discount.Photo example by Ryan Huddle

While the resources behind Mass Save say they support the state’s decarbonation plan, Chris Porter, director of customer grid for national grid in New England, said the current 2030 plan is still in draft form and According to the National Grid, the best way forward may not be complete electrification in the future.

“Our view is that there are many possible ways to achieve this goal. There is still work to be done to determine what is the best and most cost-effective way to achieve that result.

Instead, Porter said, renewable fuels such as hydrogen and renewable gas, which can transmit low-carbon fuels to existing infrastructure, could play a role in the government’s future.

Both are full of options. Critics say renewable natural gas may not be available in the form of methane, mainly from methane or organic fertilizers, and studies show that gas leaks still contribute to global warming. Hydrogen, meanwhile, is now made from methane, and climate-friendly versions may still be worse or worse than fossil fuels in a scientific journal.

Climate change by 2030, a government official said Massachusetts law remains to be drafted to include stronger carbon offsets. As a result, any changes can raise expectations For electrification, do not reduce them.

Current and proposed incentives for the Savings Program offer discounts to homeowners who heat oil or propane, but not to homeowners with gas systems. Mass Save says this is for financial reasons – heat pumps are expensive. Oil and propane customers can expect To practice saving, gas customers were able to raise their bills a little higher, and Mass savings has historically worked to save customers’ money while increasing their energy efficiency.

But switching to oil and propane customers alone will not get the state to 1 million electric homes by 2030. Currently, 750,000 homes in Massachusetts are heated with oil or propane. To achieve that goal, at least 250,000 gas customers must also switch.

When some residents tried to convert their homes into fossil fuels, contractors, including those associated with the Mass Save energy program, told them that heat pumps alone could not heat the Massachusetts winter.

Rustéca witnessed this when he converted his home into heat pumps. “I had five contractors here, and he advised me not to replace only one,” he said. That was a mass savings partner.

Homeowners across the state said they had been told by contractors that this could not be done due to the cold winter in Massachusetts when they wanted to convert their homes into fossil fuels. That is not true of many experts in the field.

“Of course, we know that general building electricity can work in Massachusetts,” said Jeremy Ku, a Texas and strategic consulting firm that has helped the state develop some of its climate plans and implement heat pump programs in the region. .

Ben Butterworth and his wife, Olivia Surf, stand by the heat pumps installed at their Melrose home.  Butterworth, one of the five contractors he spoke to, was in a position to turn the entire fuel-fired heating system into a pump.
Ben Butterworth and his wife, Olivia Surf, stand by the heat pumps installed at their Melrose home. Butterworth, one of the five contractors he spoke to, was in a position to turn the entire fuel-fired heating system into a pump.
Erin Clark / Globe staff

Unlike old-fashioned pumps in the 1990s, modern, cold-blooded heat pumps can operate at temperatures below 13 degrees Fahrenheit. But when some contractors adopt the new technology, the idea that heat pumps are ineffective is delayed.

According to Ben Batterworth, owner of Melrose Home and Senior Manager of Climate and Energy Analysis at the Akkadian Center, only one of the five contractors he spoke to was fitted to heat the fuel-fired heating system to the pumps. He worked in the field and was well versed in technology, so he knew how to look around a More comfortable Contractor to assist with the switch. But others may be more likely to take the first contractor’s advice and keep a fossil fuel system for backup.

Dan Zamagni, New England’s director of operations in the field, said he was confident that his company had installed a number of indoor heat pumps and could do the job.

“I think he can do anything with a trained eye and the right way,” said Zamagni. “These systems are becoming more effective.

The high cost of installation and operation for many homeowners can represent another major hurdle. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for heat pumps, so different types of equipment are needed depending on individual building characteristics. Installation costs can be large. The average project cost of a domestic heat pump program run by Massachusetts Pure Energy Center earned $ 21,479; More than expected, program director Meg Howard mentioned in a blog post.

“I hope this premium will be reduced as installers become more accustomed to designing entire home heat pump configurations,” she wrote.

Once the heat pumps are in operation, homeowners who have previously been on oil or propane can expect their monthly bills to be reduced. Previously, gas-fired homes may show a slight increase in the colder months, but annual bills may be due to a lack of air conditioning, he said.

Of course this much depends on the house, According to Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, a non-profit, non-profit organization. Homeowners who put their homes in the atmosphere before they make estimates save on installation and operating costs, and a draft home will cost more.

For oil and propane users who switch to fuel pumps, wholesale savings can add up to $ 6,250 to the average home, according to the Akkadian Center.

By any measure, the size of the heat pump installers is backwards. Most heat pumps are installed in homes that add existing oil, gas or propane systems, and are completely replaced. And By 2020, the wholesale savings program has helped to install 3,300 heat pumps, even with its own goal of 15,000 a year.

The program, which is being monitored by the government, the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council, is pushing for more resources than Mass Save. The council says the program should increase its target from 2021 to 2024 or to 120,000 heat pumps installed annually at 40,000. But in the process, there is no clear goal of how many buildings will be completely electrocuted, and Mass will ultimately accept the council’s intentions.

Installation of heat pumps, however, saves the fossil fuel system as a backup It will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase consumer confidence in the technology, which many homeowners say is likely to generate more electricity in the future.

But there is also a downside. “The storage of fossil fuels has implications not only for the state’s distance from its targets but also for its continued support for fossil fuels,” said Camus Ku.

Sabrina Shankman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Shankman.

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