HeatSmart Tompkins preparing for home tours

Tompkins Weekly Staff
With the arrival of winter weather, residents across Tompkins County are inviting the public into their homes to learn first-hand about heat pumps for heating and cooling.
The home tours mark the return of HeatSmart Tompkins, an energy conservation program organized by the volunteer-led, non-profit group Solar Tompkins. The program launched last year and will ramp up again in February 2017 with a series of community informational meetings.
heatsmart-logo-finalHeatSmart Tompkins promotes home insulation, air sealing, and the use of highly efficient air- and ground-source heat pump systems. The program simplifies the process for homeowners by pre-selecting local contractors and offering better-than-market pricing.
“This is a great technology, both for personal comfort and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jonathan Comstock, chair of the Solar Tompkins board of directors, in a prepared statement. “The home tours give people a chance to see it in action, and to talk with folks who have been living with it for a while. Last year’s participants told us the tours were tremendously helpful.”
While electricity generation is the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States, roughly three-fourths of residential energy use in Tompkins County is for heating, cooling, and hot water. Nearly all of that energy comes from burning fossil fuels.
Heat pumps use electricity to transfer heat from the air or the ground into houses and buildings. Because the transfer can go either way, the same system may be used for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.
For homeowners who have installed solar panels, or who buy electricity from a solar or wind farm, home heating and cooling with heat pumps can be virtually fossil fuel-free.
HeatSmart Tompkins is the first program of its kind in New York State. Last year, more than 280 county households enrolled, and more than 100 ended up signing contracts with one of three installer partners.
The tours will continue through December. Addresses, times, and other details are at SolarTompkins.org.