October 31, 2019

Better Together: Homeowners Double Up on Clean Heating & Cooling Solutions

Kristen Chen - Clean Heating & Cooling Fellow

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Clean Heating & Cooling rebate programs help homeowners across the state adopt heating and cooling technologies that lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel systems while cutting operating costs. The homeowners profiled below, Mary Johnson and Anastasia and Ezekiel Wheeler, decided to adopt two complementary clean heating and cooling technologies for their homes.


Heated by Renewables: Solar Hot Water and Biomass Heating

Mary Johnson of Ashfield had her modern wood heating heating system installed in May 2019 and a solar hot water system completed in June 2019. “I am so very happy with them,” Mary says of her new clean energy systems. “More than I could have imagined.” Her previous antiquated oil system – installed in the 1970s – frequently broke down and proved to be inefficient even after multiple repairs each season. Similarly, the house's oil hot water system was faulty and did not fulfill her family’s domestic hot water needs. The biomass boiler and the solar hot water system are connected so that the biomass system can serve as a backup for hot water. During the summer season, the biomass system remained inactive since the Johnsons’ hot water needs were solely provided by the sun. The biomass boiler is now providing warmth on cooler autumn nights as the primary source of heating in the home. Mary is impressed with the silence and efficiency of both the solar hot water system and biomass boiler.

“I needed to do my part and get us off of fossil fuels to be able to tell my children I at least tried to help save the planet for them.” – Mary Johnson

With her rebate awards from MassCEC, Mary’s total monthly loan payments for both brand-new systems and the biomass fuel turned out to be less than the cost of her monthly heat and hot water bills. As the Director of Green America’s Carbon Farming Innovation Network, Mary is passionate about contributing to climate change solutions, and feels relieved that her home no longer relies on fossil fuels for heating and domestic hot water. She plans to go all electric with solar panels and an electric vehicle to cover her family’s electric usage and transportation.


HeatSmart Success: Solar Hot Water and Ground-Source Heat Pump

Arlington residents Anastasia and Ezekiel Wheeler have adopted a combination of solar hot water and ground-source heat pump systems through the MassCEC-sponsored HeatSmart Arlington and Winchester campaign. HeatSmart Mass is a community outreach and education effort that aims to increase the adoption of clean heating and cooling technology while driving down costs for participants through a bulk purchasing model. The Wheelers found that the HeatSmart campaign expedited their plans to upgrade their heating system by providing information about the technologies, a list of pre-vetted installers, and elucidating the viability of installing both a ground-source heat pump system and solar hot water within the same home.

The solar hot water system was completed in June 2019, and the ground-source heat pump completed in October 2019. Because their old, dilapidated hot water system was already in need of replacement, installing the new solar hot water system before the ground-source heat pump has allowed them to better organize and prepare for the new heating system. Doing so also mitigated the risk of water heater failure before and during the installation of the ground-source heat pump system. A driving factor for the installation of their solar hot water system was the short return on investment. The Wheelers expect their new heating system to be more efficient and pay back over time. Both systems enable significant greenhouse gas reductions compared to their fossil fuel counterparts.

Another motivation for the Wheelers was their philosophy about investing in local businesses that move the needle on efficiency and climate change mitigation. Ezekiel's Arlington-based moving company Intelligent Labor reflects this outlook through its active efforts to reduce the business’s carbon footprint.

“The more people who buy these systems, the cheaper they’ll get, and the more vendors will pop up to sell them; therefore, more people will buy them, putting us in a positive feedback loop.” – Ezekiel Wheeler

To learn more about these technologies and the rebates we offer, please visit our Clean Heating & Cooling Programs webpage