Category Archives: Climate

People’s Climate March in DC April 29 – buses and more information

Join the
Jobs, Justice & Climate March
in Washington DC
Saturday, April 29, 2017

The March is a call for climate action & climate justice 100 days into the new administration – see www.peoplesclimate.org for lots more info.

JOIN US!!

  • Two buses are being organized from the Acton/Concord area by First Parish in Concord – all are welcome.
  • Cost is $110 per person.

HOW TO SIGN UP:


The March is organized by a broad coalition of more than 300 labor, racial justice and environmental groups:

  • 32BJ SEIU
  • 350.org
  • 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
  • Alliance for Climate Education
  • Amalgamated Transit Union
  • BlueGreen Alliance
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Center for Community Change
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  • Chispa
  • Climate Justice Alliance
  • The Climate Reality Project
  • Color of Change
  • Communications Workers of America
  • Emerald Cities
  • EMPOWER
  • Engage Virginia
  • Franciscan Action Network
  • Grassroots Global Justice
  • GreenFaith
  • GreenLatinos
  • Green For All
  • Hip Hop Caucus
  • Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Labor Network for Sustainability
  • Leadership Forum for Environmental Justice
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • Maryland Working Families
  • Moms Clean Air Force
  • NAACP
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • NextGen Climate
  • People’s Action
  • People’s Collective Arts/Colectivo de Arte Popular
  • People’s Climate Movement NY
  • Power Shift Network
  • Public Citizen
  • Service Employees International Union
  • Sierra Club
  • Sojourners
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • UPROSE
  • US Climate Action Network

To Acton Selectmen, Dec 2016. Part 2: Heat Pumps

The best current technology for heating and cooling homes and buildings is the heat pump, which comes in air source and ground source varieties

Here’s what a typical air source heat pump with mini-split installation looks like. It comprises one or more outdoor pump units, and one or more indoor mini-split units, connected with small flexible pipes that carry refrigerant. Town Hall uses this technology in the new wing. You can see the indoor mini-split unit in Conference Room 9.

How do these systems work, and why are they good solutions for heating and cooling?

Heat pumps get most of their energy from the air or ground outside. Refrigeration technology takes advantage of how heat is absorbed when a gas turns to liquid, and how it’s released when a liquid turns back to gas. Even when it’s cold outside, there is still energy in the air, and modern heat pumps can extract energy down to 10 or even 20 degrees below zero, and bring it inside. For those few super-cold days that occasionally happen, supplemental heat is used, such as conventional electric heat. In hot summer weather, the cycle runs in reverse, providing air conditioning nearly twice as efficiently as other systems. The use of energy from the grid is only ⅓ to ¼ of the energy used in the system, because most of the energy comes for free from the air or the ground outside.

We’ve been talking about air source heat pumps. There are other versions:

  • Ground source heat pumps take advantage of the steady temperatures below the frost line. Though they are even more efficient than air source heat pumps, the higher capital cost of ground source systems has become harder to overcome as air source technology improves.
  • Heat pump technology can also be used for water heating, which is typically done with an all-indoor system in the basement.
  • Heat pump heating and cooling systems can use small flexible tubes to transport the refrigerant, eliminating the need to add expensive ductwork.
  • For retrofits, systems can use existing heating or AC ducts, saving on installation costs, and allowing for a single central heating and cooling unit inside.

So what’s the financial story on air source heat pumps?

Heat pump operating costs are lower than those for any other available option because of the free energy heat pumps get from the local environment. With the incentives that are available to cushion the installation costs, heat pump costs are similar to those for other heating and AC solutions. Thus, they save money as soon as they are turned on. As an upgrade from oil, coal, gas, or propane, heat pumps begin to save money — sometimes called the “payback” point — within a few years. As an upgrade from natural gas, at current gas and electricity prices, payback can take as long as 30 years. The payback period is shorter if the alternative is an expensive repair to an existing heating or AC system.

Here’s the heating part of the operating cost comparison, from a great site called “Efficiency Maine.” You can type in expected prices for various fuels and the site then shows you the expected operating cost. At typical prices, heat pumps are by far the least-expensive option.

Here’s the cooling part of the cost comparison. The key measurement is called the SEER ratio. As this efficiency rating goes up, costs go down. Heat pump systems operate at very high efficiency, with SEER ratings of 20–30 so unless you have a very new AC system, cooling with a heat pump will cost less.

Incentives for heat pump systems are available as rebates from both the state’s Clean Energy Center and from Mass Save. And a remarkable state loan program offers so-called HEAT loans, which are interest-free loans for terms as long as seven years. These can help make some upgrades cash-flow positive fairly quickly. There is also currently a 30% federal tax credit, but we don’t yet know yet whether this will extend into 2017.

You can see our recommendations here, but to summarize: It is especially urgent to prevent new natural gas infrastructure that will lock in fossil fuel use for decades. Clearly, heat pumps are part of the solution for reducing fossil fuel use in meeting Acton’s heating and cooling needs. We recommend that the Board of Selectmen affirm these goals, and via the Town Manager, direct staff and boards to educate homeowners, developers of single and multi-family homes, real estate agents, and the public on heat pump technology, and how and why to adopt it. We recommend that research be done on additional ways for the Town to discourage new natural gas infrastructure. We also recommend that the Selectmen consider tasking an existing or new town entity with creating an overall carbon reduction plan for the Town. And finally, we commend the work the Town has done already, including creation of the Acton Power Choice plan and working with the gas company to coordinate upgrades to their leaky gas infrastructure.

Thank you all for your time and your thoughtfulness on these issues. We look forward to the next part of this dialogue.

(Read Part 1 here: mostly about Climate Change)

Mass Energy Green Drive Promotion

In effect through end of February 2017, there are deep discounts on electric and plug-in hybrid (EV and gas) vehicles. In addition to dealership discounts, there are potential $7500 federal tax credits and $2500 MA state rebates. Although the MOR-EV State Rebate website shows the funds being almost exhausted, the state just announced they’re putting in another $12 million.  http://ngtnews.com/mor-ev-massachusetts-gov-doubles-ev-rebate-funding.  If you’re inclined to buy an EV or hybrid, now is the time. (Bolt has a waiting list.)

https://www.massenergy.org/drivegreen

Background: Climate Change

Earth’s climate has gone through many changes.

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Planet Chillers: 2014 Siemens Team

The Planet Chillers came to Green Acton in the Spring of 2014. They spoke to us about the impact of food choices on climate change. Continue reading

Black Gold Miners – 2011 Junior High School Siemens Team

The Black Gold Miners came to Green Acton in 2011. Continue reading

Acton’s Green Communities projects

After being certified as a Green Community in 2010, the town of Acton applied for and received funding from the state each year after that. Here’s a partial list of projects: Continue reading

The Green Communities Act

In 2008, Massachusetts enacted the Green Communities Act  that boosts energy efficiency and encourages investment in renewable energy. Continue reading

Massachusetts Climate Action Network

 

Green Acton is the local chapter of the Mass Climate Action Network.

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Acton Green Advisory Board

http://www.acton-ma.gov/index.aspx?NID=100 Continue reading