Energy Survey Comments

This post records the free form comment responses to my recent home energy surveys. I’ve read carefully through the comments below and have posted a discussion.

Return to heat pump outline

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

151 replies on “Energy Survey Comments”

  1. I have heard the heat pumps do not work as well here in the Northeast. Cost is a factor for replacement using any new system, ie geothermal or others. They should do away with the Jones Act.

    1. I have forced hot water and a mini split upstairs. It would be easy to convert my radiators to using a heat pump hot water tank for both hot water and room heat but we don’t really do that in the USA. They do it in Canada though. I’m actually going to be updating my heating this winter, and because I can’t find anyone who knows anything about space heating with a heat pump, tank water heater I’m going to have to put in a gas combi boiler. Which is more efficient and should save me gas and money.

      1. I converted my former gas furnace to a combined high efficiency furnace that heats the hot water (so no more separate hot water tank). I looked into mini-splits two years agi, Phoebe, and the gas fitters who did my furnace said the piping was very expensive. My work-around has been to keep my house between 55 and 60 during the day, wear fleece jackets, sweaters, etc. Dry heat gives me nose bleeds plus I burn my internal body’s calories to generate heat and also watch my weight. 🙂

    2. Peter the Jones act is really not connected with energy but speaks to labor more than anything.

      Heat pumps in fact can do very well here in New England- geothermal uses heat pump technology to share or exchange heat ( cooling) loads and that is very efficient but your up front costs is high for equipment. Also it doesn’t help that the cost of electricity is higher in the north east but in part we do not have any new nuclear power plants planned and that means we have to import most of our power. As a region if keep playing “ not in my back yard “ there is a price to pay for that

      1. Not sure which point Peter has in mind, but there are a couple of connections between the Jones act and energy:

        One, when constructing offshore wind farms care must be taken to work around it. My understanding is that for Vineyard Wind the companies involved have a workaround which isn’t too expensive or awkward.

        Two, I read an old Forbes article today while trying to look up how much of our natural gas comes via pipeline vs through an LNG terminal. The writer was heavily biased towards it being desirable for us to increase our pipeline capacity. Typical of people who seem not to have any belief that global warming poses a threat, he described our policies as more or less madness (much like a certain unsuccessful candidate for governor did, someone who’s name I’ve already forgotten, my brain having that kind of practical efficiency). His point was that we end up paying the international LNG price because the Jones act was preventing (readily available U.S.?) shipping directly from Texas to here. I’m guessing that that’s Peter’s point.

        The argument in the Forbes article started out quoting a really high spot price in the middle of winter here. Naturally, it did not tell us the average price across the year, since that would not have as well accomplished the author’s objective. I am eager to see how the Algonquin City Gate winter spot prices change in 2024 or whenever Vineyard Wind comes online.

      2. Heat pumps in New England are efficient to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I know I have heat pumps with back up gas two zone FHA systems.

    3. We just had to replace our heating system in 2020, and went with a Train gas, hot air system. It is very important to us that we do our best to reduce our carbon footprint, but it seems illogical to take out our $12,000 system and spend $50,000 to install a heat pump now. We are in our late 70’s and retired living on a fixed income. Our current system will need replacement in another 20 years or so, and by then it might make good sense if we are still alive.

  2. I invested in solar panels and I’m still in the payoff period. I would like to retire soon but cannot afford to convert from oil. I would need assistance in order to do the conversion.

  3. $50,000? That’s absurd unless you live in a mansion and decide not to take the $10,000 rebate. Mass Save and any other entity giving incentives or rebates should require a tight building envelope before rewarding heat pump installation. Some years ago we asked that Mass Save, when doing energy audits, provide each homeowner with a “pathway to net zero,” listing the steps, in order – insulation, windows, etc. comes first and then the alternatives to oil and gas – and asking them to take gas off as one of the endpoints, as it is now. The total package of costs should be the basis for rebates and incentives.

    1. Mass Save requiring a tight building envelope is not at all practical for owners of many older homes. I installed historically appropriate and energy efficient windows (which cost a fortune), and I put foam between roof rafters, but intentionally left the walls empty — because the latter is essential to proper air circulation that keeps the framing dry, and ensures the house’s longevity.

      Even if I wanted to insulate the walls, I could not use foam without gutting the whole house (unacceptable), and cellulose insulation settles and becomes wet.

      Making an older wood-frame house very tight only works for those who want to be at the mercy of an expensive, complicated, whole-house climate system, and that system has to be on all the time, even when you’re away for a prolonged period.

      This video explains why not every house should have insulted walls.

      (91) Insulating an old house: What to do! – YouTube

  4. I live in a 21 unit luxury condo building that is 100 years old. I installed air conditioning ductwork and a heat pump on the roof as did the owners of about 17 units. I do not use the new system for heat as we have a boiler and radiators heating the building.

  5. As we have discussed, I think this is important but like many seniors, I can’t afford it. I (and many others) am a senior with a Reverse Mortgage and I have to watch what I spend carefully. I have a fairly new furnace and I get a good deal from my oil company.. I can’t afford to change. You had said you thought that the government would have to finance heat pumps for poor neighborhoods as well as for seniors and I have to agree.

    1. Don’t worry I’m sure the mandates will be equally and fairly applied and there won’t be any cut-offs that exclude the middle class and make us poor. That never happens no.

  6. Our house is 100 years old. We hope to upgrade to mini-split units but can’t absorb the cost or disruption just now.

  7. Our gas HVAC furnace was replaced in early 2019 on an emergency basis during a record cold spell when the older furnace stopped working. We did not have the luxury of time to weigh changing the system to electric — our pipes were in danger of freezing and we were spending money to stay in a hotel. So now we have a relatively new gas system and can’t afford to spend more money to replace it until it wears out. Plus there’s an embodied carbon externality in sending a system that still works to landfill. We need to save for more urgent home expenses like new hot water heater, exterior paint, steady tax increases (in Cambridge SF owners are the ones whose taxes increase the most while condo owners see their taxes go down. I note that our house is an attached single so its land use is similar to a 2-unit condo). Ultimately, we will convert to electric heat pump since we have the ducts and would also convert the hot water system to electric.

  8. What a terrible survey. The response options imply .agreement with your premise. Where was the option for I’m happy with what I have. Shame on you. PS – the third response to the third question was a howler – thanks for the laugh.

    1. Will has a huge socio-economic range of constituents that he represents. Belmont homes are going for $1-$2 million, then people wait a few months before they move in to do renovations and updates. I imagine for that demographic, an extra $50K is not that much. That is not my case or Will’s case, but that is that demographic reality for some in his district, so the question seems reasonable to me.

      1. Lmao. Do you “imagine” that for someone in a million dollar house an extra $50 k is not that much? What an imagination!

    2. Thank you, Steve. I take your first point well. I’ve added an explicit “not interested” option. I felt previously that it was implicit in the “cost-effective” choice, but I agree it should be an explicit choice.

      The first 86 respondents did not have that option. We’ll see how often it surfaces among later respondents.

  9. Just left my condo of 17 years. Had a heat pump
    all that time including one just installed in 2017. when temperature went below 20 degrees, the heat pump was unable to convert enough cold air into warm air. The system would switch over to costly auxiliary mode to make up the diffence Resulting in extremely high energy bills and often a cool residence.

    1. I believe that a GEOTHERMAL heat pump would have a better COP (coefficient
      of performance: Ratio of energy delivered to electrical energy input) than an AIR-based one
      because sucking heat from air at or below 20 degrees F. is harder than sucking heat from
      deep in the earth where it typically would be well above 40 degrees– it typically remains about the
      same as the mean annual temperature of the air above. The deeper you go
      the less it fluctuates with the changes of temperature in the air above; and there’s a time lag.
      BUT it would cost a lot more to dig down deep enough to install the heat-exchanging

  10. Thank you so much for these surveys! I own a two family in Belmont. My mom is first floor unit and my husband, children and I live upstairs. We have inquired about heat pumps a few times with Mass Save. And each time, they work very hard to talk us out of even considering it. Our two family is old. It is about 100 years old and I think it is not easy for them to do compared to new single family or new townhouses. We want mini splits and heat pumps, but when we’ve asked, they’ve pretty much turned us away.
    I mentioned solar panels to my in-laws who live in Arlington. I used a website to see what savings we could have if we used solar panels and if they used some. Sadly for our two family, we don’t get enough of the right type of sunlight to make it work. But for their condo, they could get a lot of energy from solar panels. When I mentioned this to them, they said something similar to what we have experienced with heat pumps. Because they live in a two family condo, those side by side ones that pop up all over Arlington, they have been turned away.
    This frustrates me on multiple levels. First off, we are both interested in improving the carbon footprint of our homes, but are being turned away. And secondly, I am a public school teacher. No matter who comes into my classroom, no matter where they came from, I never turn them away. My students always grow and feel loved. I don’t understand how these businesses do it and it is incredibly frustrating.

  11. I have steam heat. To convert to a heat pump system, I would need to put in ducting. I talked to an HVAC person a year or two ago about minisplits. If I remember correctly, he told me minisplits inadequate for heating in our climate. We are talking many tens of thousands of dollars to convert because of ducting issue. Makes no sense to even consider as long as our electricity system still relies heavily on natural gas because any carbon savings will be minimal.

    1. Find a contractor who understands heat pumps. Today’s mini-split systems work down to -5 degrees F.

    2. I f you can convert that steam system to a hot water system you might save some money add in a few mini splits for cooling and heat to about 40 degrees and you might have a winner

  12. Like many elderly living in a single family house with a relatively efficient heating system (gas) the upfront cost and effort does not seem enticing given other priorities for funds. Unless I decide to act on principle the financial issues make little sense.

  13. We installed 8 mini splits and 3 heats pumps just over a year ago.

    We are currently running them with the old steam boiler as back up. I haven’t let them do the whole job on the very cold days…the house temp seems to drop pretty dramatically at night even with pumps running.

  14. We live in an owner-occupied two-family. We have spent much of the past uear in the process of getting an air heat exchange mini duct system installed. It has not gone smoothly. Covid and supply chain delays pushed everything back by months. And and when it was finally installed during the worst of the late summer heat waves the system, while sufficiently large for the volume of our unit, was unable to move the air around enough to adequately cool the living spaces. And now that winter is here the same is true for heat. Our contractor, Revision Energy, has been absolutely wonderful about coming back to continue working on things. I assume they’re losing money on this job. They and we still hope for a resolution. In the meantime, I’ve re-lit the pilot on my old hot water radiator system boiler.

  15. What I really want in my current home is a way to replace my oil burner with an electric one and keep the forced steam radiators. I found one company online that did something like it and it was $$$. I had a condo with an older heat pump and 1) it was insufficient, and 2) the forced air triggered asthma for a member of my household. If I ever had the luxury of gut-rehabbing a house, I’d put in a system either with electric radiators or maybe with a heat pump but also an accompanying whole house humidifying system, heated floors in several rooms, etc. Not having won the lottery lately we try to just keep the heat very low and insulate.

  16. Mini splits might make sense if there were incentives for solar panels as well. Is there any push for some kind of help (0% loans, rebates , etc.) for installing solar panels?

    1. I’ve read that solar panels life is only 15-20 years, and then they have to be replaced. But there is no way to recycle the spent solar panels, and they have chemicals that are very bad for the environment. For me, it’s a deal breaker. I also don’t like seeing those panels on beautiful old homes.

  17. I do not have ducts, but forced hot water which makes conversion less appealing. Furthermore, there seems to be too many drawbacks to the system that I found doing some basic research. For new home construction with ducts and solar panels this technology seems like the way to go. However, seems like a big expense if my current single/centralized system in place works with forced hot water to change to a multi-unit system or new ducts in a house that done not have it. I value reducing my carbon footprint, but I would need to look at it more. For reference, the list below was taken from a “green technology” site that listed the pros and cons of heat pumps (I only listed the cons).

    High upfront cost.
    Difficult to install.
    Questionable Sustainability.
    Requires significant work.
    Issues in cold weather.
    Not entirely carbon neutral.
    Planning permissions required.

  18. I have just read a somewhat worrying characterization of heat pumps as susceptible to serious malfunction if turned on at full force, i.e not started at fractional power and gradually brought up to full power. Power outages in cold weather supposedly represent a particular danger.

    1. Absolutely not true. The controller systems bring them up gradually, even in the ‘Powerful’ mode, which brings them up more quickly.

  19. Thanks, Senator, for pushing for climate-saving investments. The planet is in crisis.

  20. I have oil heat and splits. Do not like that to qualify for split rebates, my oil system needs to be basically shut down. The rush to end fossil fuel seems to me premature when reliable sources of energy are not still able to replace energy needs. As well where is the discussion about all the products we rely on are made from petroleum?

    1. These are the exact same people for whom helical nitrogen fertilizer is now a “crisis.” I leave it to you to look up how many people we have to kill to rapidly ratchet down chemical fertilizer at the speed or is currently being imposed in Holland, Canada, Sri Lanka etc.

  21. Last year, I bought half of a two-family house in Cambridge. While I initially thought the house needed no work, pretty soon everything stopped working–with the notable exception of the gas-powered steam heat. Long story short, I decided that so much was on the verge of breaking in the kitchen that I should probably redo the kitchen (I’m replacing a badly leaking gas range with an electric oven and an induction stove) and get rid of the hideous, misaligned beige bathroom tile while I was at it. Construction starts next month.

    In contrast to the kitchen and bathroom renovation, which will improve my enjoyment of the house tremendously, converting to heat pumps would require substantial up-front cost that would, in replacing one working heating system with another, leave me at best equally well off. Although I’d like to install heat pumps someday, on some level, I’m terrified that they wouldn’t work as well as my current heating system. Converting to heat pumps now, which sounds like a lot more expense and house-related headache, is just more than I can afford–in many senses of the word–to take on.

  22. Thank you for the survey – as one of your city constituents who owns a unit in a multi-family (12 units) I hope you will continue to respect the diversity of housing stock in your district.
    There is no one solve for this crisis, and whatever we do needs to respond to respect this diversity . Create a policy/plan for all of us, not just single family homeowners. Sets goals and reach them in as many ways as needed.

  23. This survey does not capture our decision process. We do not expect to be in our home 15 years from now at which point a developer is likely to tear it down and rebuild. Therefore, it is not clear if a heat pump is cost effective.

  24. I got some quotes this summer and it would cost upward of $80,000 to eliminate gas in my home based on recommendations from Abobe. The biggest cost is duct work for my second floor. The rebate system is not favorable to doing the work piecemeal.

    1. I’d find another HVAC contractor who does heat pumps. Though we have a small house, 1750 sq.ft., our whole-house cold weather mini-split system with 5 indoor units cost $20k.

  25. Although this survey is timely and surveys should be continuous, do the physics, New England weather for the foreseeable future, the heat pump technology, the current expense of conversion in older housing, and the net drain on the electrical power grid indicate that conversion on a massive scale is premature?

  26. We live in a hundred year old small colonial. I brought a company in about 18 months ago to have my home assessed for heat pumps, which my son had installed in his much newer home at that time. I was told it would cost close to $20,ooo as I recall and would be marginally effective as the location of windows, stairway to second floor and closed floor plan would require multiple units all of which would have duct work running across the front of the house. So, some old homes are not good conversion candidates. Also, we have newish gas furnace thru Mass Save. I believe we received both a substantial discount and five year 0% financing. A conversion to heat pumps for many seniors and others will incomes less than the Belmont median will require that type of financial incentive.

  27. When I looked at Mass Save for the heat pump (2021), it was not very organized and inefficient. Insulation program is well organized (I did it in 2020), but the heat pump incentive need to step up its program! I have a Unico system and cannot be used w/ heat pump system; so they told me.
    Until I can justify a decent program, I will stay with my stem heat.

  28. As has been pointed out eloquently and sometimes poignantly homeowners and landlords find themselves in very different situations, financially and with respect to the conditions and histories of the buildings and the current heating and cooling systems which should eventually be changed. Some can switch to heat pumps or geothermal systems more easily and affordably and well before others. There is no one solution or option that is best for all residents at the same time to achieve significant improvements in efficiency and reducing the emissions generated by their essential building systems. As a minimum sometimes relatively easy improvements in the building envelope can help to reduce heating and cooling loads and therefore expenses and emissions. But it will take a few decades to make serious inroads into our use of oil and natural gas in our buildings. To progressively and consistently make progress in this direction among other factors we need to increase the availability of products and staff trained in their installation and maintenance. These observations mean we need to start seriously moving in this direction wherever and however we can without further delays. In this context I find it reprehensible that gas utilities are still trying to extend their use of gas to new construction and even to areas not yet served by them and to propagate misinformation about the merits of introducing new gases (green hydrogen and renewable natural gas, which is also the notorious greenhouse gas methane) as their pie (or pipeline)-in-the-sky solution to the problems generated by our use of methane. They are trying to convince us that polluting “fossil-free” gases are actually pollution-free, despite the fact that it is the chemical composition and properties of a gas that determine its impact when it is combusted, not whether it was formed millions of years ago from fossils or in a more recent man made process.

  29. We added mini splits and kept gas furnace as compressors will not function in temperatures below 30 or 10 degrees depending on compressor. Questions imply one or other is the option when my understanding is that mini splits are not total solution.

  30. There is an assumption that electric energy is cleaner than fossil fuels, but we need to know the source of it (nuclear, wind, hydroelectric, coal, oil, gas, geothermal). A quick check online resources shows that much electrical power is still generated by fossil fuels. That larger systemic issue need to be addressed before I’d consider doing anything.

    It’s not clear if the Mass Save cost of converting to a heat pump from gas-based hot water radiators, which I have, also includes the the removal of the old furnace and radiators. Likely not.

    As much as I love the idea of cutting the fossil fuel cord (and the space I’d reclaim by the removal of my giant radiators), the cost of converting is simply too high for me.

  31. The supply of reputable and qualified contractors to complete this work is also a barrier. MassSave is great because you have protection in your purchases through the design of the program – at least for home insulation installation and the like.

    There is simply a limited supply of businesses in the area I would feel comfortable entering into a long-term and costly business arrangement with. The amount of time and energy to vet contractors and get quotes and deal with the interruptions associated with construction are considerable. At my life stage this cost is substantial and creates a lot of additional stress while I am balancing a career and other obligations.

    There are thousands of homes that could benefit from this program but we also need to be sure that consumers are protected and can have confidence when contracting for this work.

    1. HVAC contractors are among the least trusted scammers and incompetents to begin with and for good reason. If you get one to show up you’ll be treated to a lecture about why the previous guy was ann idiot and everything he did must be ripped out and replaced to promote sustainable technologies, which means buying the sales rep a Tesla. First get an industry that can even install current tech competently and then we’ll worry about not gearing to dilithiumw crystals.

  32. We replaced the steam boiler in our 1890’s Back Bay building which has 28 units and switched from oil to gas about 10 years ago; I forget how many tens of thousands it was. At the time we thought we were doing the right thing as gas is cleaner than oil. We did get a considerable rebate from National Grid to do the conversion. A few units have installed their own AC units, but there is no existing ductwork in our building.
    This year I replaced the old HVAC unit in my suburban office with a heat pump. Unfortunately Mansfield Electric offered no rebates so it was entirely out of pocket. $13K.
    P.S I love putting my snowy mittens and hats on the toasty radiator after shoveling!

  33. I just thought of another comment…when I first bought my condo 15 years ago I looked into replacing the windows to triple-paned ones. In Back Bay, energy efficient windows are NOT ALLOWED due to the historical restrictions. Instead I could have my single-paned windows reglazed for about a thousand dollars each, 15 years ago.

  34. Our house in Arlington was built new in 2017. It is heated by propane with a tank under the front yard; there is no natural gas on our street. As soon as we moved in, we had rooftop solar installed (about $30k upfront cost, ROI is about 7%/year, we’re happy with the result) which covers all of our electricity usage (including AC) but not, obviously, heat.

    I am very concerned about climate change. I would like to replace our propane furnaces with heat pumps and install a second solar array to power the heat pumps. The up-front cost is not a problem for us, but I think the net result needs to be at least close to break-even long term for us to proceed. I vote for pro-environment candidates and would happily pay more taxes for large-scale climate improvements, but just throwing cash at money-losing improvements for my own house while the rest of society allows the planet to burn does not make sense. Doing so wouldn’t be pro-environment; it would just rich-white-guy virtue signaling. It would be better to put that money toward more pro-environment government.

  35. Just curious……..where does electricity come from? It is not a fuel. Are gas and oil used to manufacture it? Am a senior living in a 100+ year old house. Have a gas furnace. Looked into mini splits but the cost was exorbitant.
    Senator Brownsberger ……I wish you would look into the punitive WEP provision which prevents public retirees from collecting all of the SS benefit’s THAT THEY HAVE EARNED. Getting that little bit of money back would help the 85,000 Massachusetts residents and more than 2 million public retired public employees nationwide. Please support bill HR2337. We have a short window of less then 4 weeks before changes come to congress.

  36. I own a two family side by side in Brighton. I had MassSave do a home energy assessment to give me insulation, appliance rebates and a quote for heat pumps. I moved forward with the insulation and converted gas stoves to induction. When it comes to heat pumps, just for one of the homes that I live in, I was quoted $20k for a three piece systems that included a unit for the first floor and each of the bedrooms. I don’t have ducts so it would be installed on the the side of the house. There was no solution for the bathroom other than electric baseboard on a separate thermostat in the bathroom and with tenants in the future, I’m worried about my pipes freezing. In Brighton, I rent to grad students and am cost conscious to what they can afford. I grew up with forced hot air and don’t like it so I really prefer the current hot water radiators I have now. To move forward with changing the two family would cost in total $50k- $20k per side plus another $10k to remove the chimney and make the kitchen and bath larger to get more rent to make up for the up front investment.

  37. I Am 85 and won’t be living long enough to regain any cost benefits to convert from oil

  38. I installed a minisplit heat pump system for the third floor of my 2 family house. It works like a dream and I want to try to do more in the bottom two floors, but I decided to take a stepwise approach before doing it. First investment will be solar panels. Using SunBug Solar for that. Next, I want to blow insulation into the walls. I am thinking of cellulouse insulation. Once that is done, I’d consider the minisplits. My idea is that I want right size the pump system to the house after it has been insulated.

  39. My biggest issue is we recently upgraded to a high efficiency boiler (7 years ago) and JUST FINISHED paying it off last month. We cannot personally afford to replace our system again.

  40. Thank you, Senator, for your care to our climate. I wish there had been a comment box on the survey. I had 4 mini-splits in our condo on Orchard St. I could only use the heat function in cool vs cold weather or my oil pipes would freeze. In my current home on Worcester St., I have no wall space for heat pump mini-splits. Re vents/ducts, we don’t have that except for new ones created for a high velocity A/C, designed for older homes. I question if heat could be pushed through those?

    Our HVAC is new, gas, high efficiency, with on-demand water and it was quite expensive. We didn’t have the option of electric because there were none that were great or as efficient. We installed solar panels and feel as good about our situation as we can.

    Also, many above questioned the mini-splits ability – they do have a higher maintenance need and we had a lemon that limped along. That’s my biggest reason for not doing mini-splits.

  41. Question – reading above where, on a -20 degree day, the heat pump did not find any heat…. would a winter coat of sorts help? Build a solar gain structure around it?

    1. Recall that the heat pulled inside by a pump would refrigerate the structure interior.
      The coat in this case might lock more cold air around the heat pump unless you could somehow get the solar heat without obstructing the dissipation of colder air.

  42. We moved into a very old 120+ old two family in 2020.

    Installed ducts and warm air gas furnace. Mini splits wouldn’t work to circulate heat and cool throughout the condo. All the contractors willing to work on the property were clear about needing gas to provide adequate heat.
    Would consider a hybrid gas/ heat pump system but at the time couldn’t find a contractor who was familiar with them nor could we source them.

    Maybe in a future scenario but due to insulation challenges our coldest days would require backup heating. I feel satisfied I reduced the carbon footprint by replacing a very old oil boiler with a 98% furnace it would be hard to justify a further HVAC rework.

  43. The comments above mirror our experience – in that we are very interested and highly motivated. The MassSave/City of Cambridge energy advisors have been helpful and yet not as helpful as they need to be if we are to rapidly transition . Like Sarah Marie Jette, and Steve Miller we own a 2-family – the advisors talked about how complicated the conversion would be – which may be true, but with thousands of buildings like ours in the city, we need to work on providing a clear path forward for homeowners – or many (most?) will not move forward. We did not get a clear easy path and the vendors we called were not responsive. For us to electrify on the scale we need to the process has to be smoother and clearer. ANd we need to have technical and financial help for all. Plus we need rapidly to develop a process for people in emergency situations like Jan Devereux – for when a system fails there is a ready solution that can be installed almost immediately. Once you have spent money to fix/replace a failed system with a lifespan of 15-30 years, it would be hard to justify replacing that system – esepcailly taking into account the embodied energy.

    On another related topic: we need to install networked geothermal systems since that system could be a game changer. In some places it should be able to transition off fossil fuels with less expense than individual heat pumps.

  44. Answered “can’t guess” on $$ questions. Other capital investments we are considering in parallel:
    – battery storage for our solar panels with annual production very well matched to our current annual load: sick and tired of selling to BMLD for 11 cents and buying for 18 (and rising)
    – gas heats our DHW year-round – are solar hot water, heat pump or hybrid HWH viable?
    – electric vehicle with home charging
    – sacrifice attic storage space to super-insulate cap

  45. I live in an old house that was designed for the heating we have. The house will fail at some point and a new one will take its place, maybe in 20 years. Without the system I have, the pipes would freeze. With any further renovation, I can truly expect the house to be totaled. I know this because I grew up working on old houses in the area. While my primary heat is gas, I have a number of rooms shut off when not in use during the winter, my consumption is considered low even for my modest house. I have mini space heaters at my kids desks. I have thermal drapes in layers. I do a lot of things. I don’t ever get the feeling that people who work on the houses we have are consulted on these matters, because the questions you pose don’t always fit the situation.

  46. When I bought my home in 2010 I had Mass Save come in for an audit. After, I got 3 estimates for insulating my home. Only one company was affiliated with the Mass Save program – they said they’d have the home insulated in 4 hours.
    The other two companies, not affiliated with Mass Save, were going to take 3 days. I went with one that spent three full days (~26 hours in all) and paid for it myself (no Mass Save rebate), but got a quality job. I don’t have a lot of faith in the companies Mass Save contracts with – I hope it’s changed since then.
    Since then, I’ve installed high velocity a/c due to lack of duct work and am very satisfied with that.
    From what I’ve read, heat pumps run on electricity, but I couldn’t fine average electricity costs in this area. Will it keep the house warm in the winter and cool enough in the summer?

  47. The issue for our Government representatives is not about how each of us individually heat our homes or businesses.This should be about what resources we have to make those choices.
    Electricity approaching 18c KWH

    We tell folks to buy electric cars, yet our power grids cannot sustain .This is why the utilities are seeking out energy efficient projects, to put less strain on the grid (which is crumbling).Then they tell us to buy electric cars, heat pumps, solar panels.
    If your infrastructure cannot support the very products you are pushing, prepare the infrastructure for the future.
    Leave the individual choices to the individual,based on the reliability of the systems,supporting it.
    Please concentrate on supplying future power at a reasonable price, that can sustain the green technology being pushed.
    We do not want to end up having a green technology with roaming blackouts.
    Thank you

  48. My gas heating system if fairly new and apparently very efficient. However, I don’t have AC so I looked into heat pumps and got estimates this summer. The costs were between $15-25,000 and I ultimately opted for one of the new model Soleus window units for $500 that claim to operate like heat pumps.
    Thanks to Will for taking this on.

  49. Please avoid yes/no answers, where the rationale is provided, which may not match my rationale. A simple yes/no would be better. Follow-up questions for rationale would suffice. I’ve made similar comments to previous surveys. It’s like the question – “Will you vote for Will in the next election? Yes – I always vote Democrat; No – I always vote Republican.” The rationale makes the response absurd for at least some people.

    I have a gas boiler with forced hot water, with a mix of radiators and baseboards, so no air vents. Based on contractor quotes that I received and reviewed with Abode Energy, the cost of an air-sourced heat pump (ASHP) minisplit system is about 2x the cost of a new energy efficient gas boiler and hot water heater. One contractor was going to quote vents for ASHP, but I never got the quote. The gas vs. heat pump installation difference would take a while to recover financially – we’d get better cooling than current window air conditioners, but inferior heating. Air-sourced heat pumps are OK, but not warm like forced hot water or air. Ground sourced heat pumps are a great solution, but the installation cost is even more.

    Solar panels on my roof have a ~20-year payback, due to an oversized (~5 story tall) Belmont shade tree on the street to the south of my home, plus more trees to my west and southwest. I’m not sure which is better – shade from the tree during the summer helping keep my home cool, or having solar panels to supply an ASHP.

    As an alternative to my own solar panels, I’ve only looked a little at community solar (, but Belmont doesn’t participate. Perhaps that doesn’t matter, if Belmont Light is already truly at 100% renewable energy ( I don’t understand renewable energy credits (REC) well enough to know if the 100% is true renewable, or an accounting game that allows Belmont to still get power on a cold, dark, windless night during a drought.

  50. I live in a townhouse condo, so I’m responsible for my HVAC, but the condo association has a say in how large a unit I can place outside and where it is located. Also, I just replaced my gas furnace in 2018, so it’s a little soon for another major investment.

  51. Dear Senator, am not a constituent but wanted to share some thoughts. First City of Cambridge is trying to force massive conversation on buildings with 50 or more units to heat pumps by 2035 or pay fines. I know the building stock in Cambridge is very different from Belmont. That said most of the comments I read from Belmont folks sound very familiar to what Cambridge people are saying about this proposed forced conversion. Very expensive, not enough wall space, significant structural reconfigurations on older buildings, shoddy heat pump products, inadequate heat in frigid weather, no place to place condensers that will not ruin the front and sides of older buildings. Roof placement for large buildings may require new roof before installation of condensers. The cost of retrofitting a building of any size is quite enormous. In my building of 49 units we estimated 2 million dollars that would be passed on into condo fees.
    A few years ago I had a couple of HVAC contractors in to assess whether we could convert to heat pumps. Right now each unit has its own HVAC system of gas powered by electricity. The problems both contractors said was wall space. The units are supposed to be placed on external walls for maximum efficiency. And in this building there is not enough solid wall space in the main living/dining/kitchen spaces for even one split unit on an external wall. Placing these units on internal walls – if possible – means running ugly pipes from your unit along the wall until it can get to an outside wall. In effect, one’s living space is converted to the look of a basement with pipes running across walls or hanging under the ceiling.
    In addition in my building the least expensive option for a condenser is the balcony, thereby ruining the balcony as an outside space for condo owners orrenters. These issues are not unique to my building – the housing stock -condos and rentals -in Cambridge is old. Many are historic buildings. There are a lot of smaller buildings – 2, 3, 4, and up to 49 units – in Cambridge but they are exempt right now.
    People who would be effected by this proposal – once they know about it – are in an uproar. The City Council has been strongly criticized for not doing outreach to condo owners and tenants to inform folks about this proposed change. Many of us believe it will have a negative effect on property values while imposing huge costs on property owners and tenants alike. As of now single family homes are exempt. And it’s worth noting that no Councilor would be effected by their proposal as none live in the type of building that would be effected.
    If this crazy plan does pass, it will be good for property values in surrounding towns which are not imposing outrageous costs on condo owners and tenants.

  52. I have a 92 year old single family house with gas-fired steam heat – only one zone for the whole house except a sunroom with its own gas-fired baseboard hot water heat. No AC except bad old window units. I installed 3 mini splits to get better AC and to allow me to keep the whole house temperature lower and heat the areas I mostly live in to a comfortable temperature. I am trying to reduce gas consumption though I don’t think I can eliminate it due to possible pipe freezing problems. The AC part worked great. This is my first season with the mini-splits so I’m not sure how the gas reduction will work.

  53. A significant amount of electrical power is still created via fossil fuels. That systemic problem will need to change, so I’d need more info about our electrical sources before investing. Additionally, I doubt that MassSave would pay for the disconnection or removal of my hot water, gas-based boiler nor the removal of the radiators. Ultimately, this would be cost prohibitive for me unless there were significant rebates or huge savings.

  54. I’d be interested in installing a heat pump, but have just spent $25k on a new condensing boiler, central AC compressor, and air handler.

  55. Mary Urban writes: “Just curious……..where does electricity come from? It is not a fuel. Are gas and oil used to manufacture it?”
    I find this, and the other tabs, useful in improving my understanding of current circumstances in Massachusetts:
    I’d be interested in better understanding how to predict how increased demand for electricity in Massachusetts over the next decade or two would most likely be satisfied. And would be grateful for any resources that folks here can offer.
    I also wish I understood better how just how quickly networked geothermal could become an option here in MA if all levels of government were to focus on fostering its expansion as a priority.
    Tangentially, I found this podcast
    of interest regarding Quaise Energy, which aims to use deep geothermal for power plants
    “Quaise’s deep drilling technology is the result of a decade of research conducted by Paul Woskov at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center.”
    Still half a dozen years or so away from full deployments, it is backed by The Engine, a venture firm built by MIT:

  56. It’s very humorous that heat pumps and electric cars are being shoved down everybody’s throat when the infrastructure in the United States is so far behind the times of what the government is trying to succeed, and for all the people out there who don’t understand where electricity comes from it comes from all the fossil fuel that this president has put a noose around it and squeezing it, and crippling the economy, hurting every person out there when you get your electric bill, your gas bill and when you go to the pump, this whole thing about electricity is better for the economy better for the O zone is a bunch of crap. Mini splits are a fantastic machine in the right application just to get a house and put mini splits all over your house thinking that you are saving the planet is a complete and I’ll write lie , just like the electric cars where is the lithium come from? What happens when a battery ends its life where does it go? Where do the windmills go when they break where do the solar panels go? When they break they go into landfills and destroy the country and the world so I would appreciate it. If you people would stop lying to everybody, lotta people are gullible because they will not do any research again everything has a reason why you would do something but the way it was distributed is 100% wrong

    1. Well said William, the push for “all electric” whilst shutting down generation and nimby-ing power lines is hilarious, all it’s going to do is cost more and gimp your lifestyle. Full disclosure: I’m retired after 44 years working for Boston Edison/NStar.

  57. We recently installed a heat pump system, ducting through the attic to the second floor and using mini-splits on the main floor and in our finished basement. I am thankful that we are in a position to absorb somewhat higher heating bills (this will be our first month heating with the new system). I wanted to make a couple of additional comments. First, for Belmont residents, the help provided from Abode (through their contract with Belmont Light) made the process of evaluating and choosing options much less nerve-racking than it might otherwise have been. I would encourage the expansion of MassSave to provide a similar enhanced level of support to all MA residents. Second, I want to comment (somewhat belately) on your earlier discussion about the possible under-estimation of the social costs of carbon. Do the current estimates take into account the monumental costs that will be associated with evacuating and relocating much of the Boston metro? building a ginormous sea wall? Of course, all of this poses questions about intergenerational cost shifts. We retirees may not be around when the shit finally hits the fan, but without comprehensive responses now, it most certainly will. We need to do more to help lower-income folks install green technology.

  58. I am hoping to retire this summer, or at least go part-time at age 68 and waiting until 70 for SS. My living expenses are not bad, but will be tight once I stop working full-time. I am looking at having a lodger, reducing my expenses further or other ways to survive, especially as everything is so much more expensive with inflation. I don’t believe this inflation will go away—my experience tells me that as soon as corporations are able to raise prices, they will figure out a way to keep them there (smaller packaging, etc). I am worried about unexpected expenses. I am relatively well-off financially; I can’t imagine how anyone making less money or with a family to support could afford this.

    I firmly believe that the best way to become energy independent is to push local generation, i.e., either municipal energy generation or individual consumption like solar panels (or smaller, local wind power). The other option, similar to municipal in its results, is to go with an aggregate electrical program where you can opt in for 100% renewable, which Watertown has thankfully done. The irony is that although I opted to pay a bit more for renewable, the 3-year contract that Watertown negotiated will keep my rates lower when they go up soon. This proposed recent rate hike is just the tip of the iceberg concerning electric as far as I’m concerned and should serve as a warning. If we are all on electrical heating and cooling and charging our shiny new electric cars, what happens when the electrical company just has to raise those rates?

    I am not convinced that heat pumps are the solution, and think that the legislature is jumping the gun pushing this technology for everyone. I have friends with newer homes that have installed heat pumps and are looking at solar and it’s working for them. For me, and many of us in the Boston area living in 100+-year-old homes with little discretionary income, the heat pump option is iffy and expensive:
    — the number of reputable, experienced companies that can install these systems is limited, meaning you could get in serious trouble if you put out the money and end up with an inadequate or expensive system.
    — it is not clear to me how well heat pumps work in our climate in different home situations (2-families, multi-units, old homes, etc)
    — it is definitely not clear to me where all this electricity is going to come from, esp, once we are all charging our cars and using heat pumps during the hot summer, or cold winter, months. In the 1970s, my parents installed electric heat in a new home and it was disastrous, not to mention prohibitly expensive and they regretted it. I’m sure the technology is better now, but the money-making model is still in place. I don’t see anyone addressing how we will control electricity costs in the future.
    — would feel better about installing solar panels since we would be protected from runaway rate hikes (we would have to redo our slate roof so have relectantly let that option go for now).

    Every change has consequences, even the good and necessary changes. We have let fossil fuel consumption go on too long and are scrambling to make the changes quickly that are necessary to continue living on this planet. I am not seeing a lot of creativity in inventing solutions and wonder why all our engineers aren’t coming up with more options (I suspect it’s to do with money of course—who gets it and who spends it).
    I wonder why we don’t have solar roof tiles on new construction homes. Recently, I saw a German car with solar panels on top so it could self-generate. What about individual home wind power? Why don’t we see ways to combine current technology? Why don’t we see more creativity?

    Until I see the consequences of changing over to renewable energy really addressed with inventive, creative solutions, I remain skeptical of any “miracle” technology.

  59. We like radiant heating instead of forced hot air heating. For hydronic systems, an electric boiler would be preferable. “Heat Pumps” ignores this possible all=electric solution.
    Maybe it would not make a difference in survey results, but perhaps it need to be determined if the investment horizon (e.g. because of plans to sell) is not sufficient to make some of the questions relevant.

  60. I installed heat pump mini-split system 20 years ago, adding 3 more thermostats to my 100-year-old home. Since then, I replaced my modern gas hot water boiler and tied the hot water tank to it. I knew the heat pump couldn’t cope with our winter temperatures, so I forgot it even had the capability to heat in above freezing temperatures. I am focused on saving energy, so I have maximized insulation in my home and my boiler feeds 5 zones with separate thermostats, some of them are clock controlled. Rooms I seldom use have thermostatic valves, so those rooms aren’t kept warm. The kitchen radiant zone is computer controlled.
    The boiler water temperature is controlled by another computer monitoring the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature. I drive a fully electric car since 2018. I don’t qualify for solar panels because my electric bills are below $60. I looked into upgrading to heat pump that could work in this climate and if it gets too cold it tuns on the fossil fuel system. Perhaps when the rebates increase, I will upgrade to low temperature heat pump mini-splits.
    I agree there were no questions that allowed me to say I already had heat pump heat.

  61. We have a gas-powered heating system and some mini splits. And we did a Mass Save audit and insulation. The mini-splits cannot come close to heating the house on a 20 degree day.

    If Massachusetts wants to get serious about fossil fuels, Logan Airport is the #1 priority. Improved heat efficiency is all good but a drop in the bucket relative to cars and planes.

  62. Being supplied with the $10,000 rebate and a no-interest loan for $21,000, plus the prospect of a $2,000 tax credit, has made it an easy decision for us to commit installation of a heat pump system in January 2023. I certainly hope the 10K rebate and the availability of an interest free loan will attract a lot of homeowners to convert to a heat pump system.

  63. Last year I invested in a highest efficiency gas/hot air furnace–with a rebate (to replace a supposedly similar one a few years earlier), so I feel I cannot afford to change systems at this time (still paying off the new furnace). Instead, I would focus on other ways to make the house more energy efficient.
    Would be interested in heat pumps for the future!

  64. Instead of pushing a simple message that Heat pumps are the ultimate answer, it would be better to educate us on the specific use cases where they are and are not suited.
    Eg. I spoke with the Belmont advisor on Heat Pumps. It would not be cost effective to my oil/hydronic/ducted system with a heat pump because it would struggle to achieve the temperatures needed to transfer enough heat to the air blowing through the ducts. Similarly, Heat pumps don’t make sense for my under floor radiant heat because those run continuously to maintain even temperature in the room and heat pumps are not designed for that.
    Finally a friend in Milton with an old, poorly insulated 150 yr old home put in 2 heat pumps with 6 rooms of mini splits. His winter electric bills jumped to $900/month and how he is considering a wood furnace to supplement heating the house.

  65. As nice as heat pumps can be, they are not ideal in new England. They struggle in very cold temps and for the bulk of them, the electricity comes from good old fossil fuel. Hardly as environmentally friendly as touted.

  66. We had to replace our gas furnace in the middle of January a few years ago. They were able to do it in a few days. During that time we used our mini-splits for heat, but only have them in the kitchen and bedroom. They were a life saver for that situation. But I could never have gotten mini-splits added to the house that fast, especially in the middle of snow season. I’ve become a real fan of multiple heat sources as a result.

  67. The high efficiency gas furnace for hot water radiators was installed 12 years ago. . We are not thinking of replacing the system with heat pumps because of the cost and the unpredictability of life events at my and my partners ages – 79 and almost 80. Our personal financial resources are limited and we are mindful of the fact that we might need to pay for home care, and/or move to a smaller place or to an assisted living at any time in the future – life is unpredictable and more so at this stage. Our home is 105 years old, 1800 sf. It can accommodate mini-splits in the two hottest rooms, our bedroom and the kitchen which we are considering mainly for the ac benefit . We keep the house cool in winter and our gas bills are not high. We are always in the “most efficient” category in those little ratings that National Grid sends around. The house is fully insulated and the storm windows are very tight. In summary, for us, limited financial resources and being at a time of life when unpredictable and expensive changes are more likely to happen, make us unwilling to consider replacing our gas furnace with heat pumps.

  68. We own a two family in Cambridge, with two gas furnaces.
    Our second floor furnace is frail at best and
    we would seriously consider electric-based conversion options ASAP.
    We insulated whole house in 2021 with Mass Save.
    Would appreciate tips here about who to contact about options.

  69. We replaced our old gas boilers and hot water tanks in our 2 family with HE wall hung units, direct vent, etc. maybe 5 or 6 years ago. MassSave helped us make our choice. We (and our tenants, from what I can discern) have saved on energy costs. This was, however, at a very high cost to install, only affortable due to a HEAT loan. We were pushed toward this as the next “great thing” in energy savings, and are happy that we did. (We also freed up space in our basement.) I am wondering if heat pumps and mini splits are the next “great thing”, and whether something EVEN BETTER will come along in a few years. We skipped the going solar step, as our roof is tiny and mostly faces the wrong direction. We are very aware of our environmental impact, and do as much as we can to minimize it, and yes, there is always more to do – but we can’t afford (financially and psychologically) to continue questioning and justifying every single thing that we do. We have no easy way to install ductwork, no place outside to put a condenser, and our house was not built for multiple heating zones. For some folks, these are simple, easy options – for the rest of us, not so much. I applaud those who are able to make the swap.

  70. I live in a single family home heated by oil steam heat and a gas wall space heater for supplementary heating. I had it insulated via mass save, installed a thermal solar DHW (domestic hot water) system that runs off grid 7 months a year (backed up by a gas demand heater on other months) through a simple PV circulation system I designed. Had installed a conventional PV electric system sized that provides all the electricity (E-bills no payment due for the last 9 years) This home was gifted to me and a sibling by my parents as part of a delayed medicaid avoidance strategy plan on their part to keep us and them with a roof over our (and their) heads. so selling it would incur a huge capital gains tax hit at both state and federal level.
    I was put into forced retirement after the company I worked for closed 8 years ago. Because the property tax bite is now about 30% of my pension/SS, I need to relocate outside Mass. I talked with various brokers, estate planners, tax accountants and come to the conclusion the best route I should follow is salvage the solar equipment to install on my next residence most likely being in NH, or if I can’t, sell it on eBay/Craigslist/etc. The home is located in a tony suburb that brokers agree is a knockdown to be purchased for the lot which says any improvements are total loss.
    If I do hit the power-ball number and could stay, from practical experience, I would replace the gas wall heater with a pellet stove, convert the gas range to propane (it is a trivial task), the gas demand heater is a “modulating burner” that automatically adjusts to the propane. The oil furnace I would keep as is. Over the years I have taken a dimmer view on the increased dependency on the energy utility industrial complex and it’s socialization of the grid. The decision to buy energy (clean or dirty) I store on site gives me flexibility of who from and when to buy is in my hands.
    My advice to others, If you have the roof space to provide ALL your electrical energy needs including electric cars and heat pumps , by all means go ahead. Understand you loose a lot of control and say of how you run your energy life. You will learn very quickly next time you have an extended power outage. I dodged a big one with hurricane Catrina when my 800 watt chainsaw sized generator ran all the necessary household essentials, kept me and my parents with a roof over our heads, kept them out of the nursing home and me (and my sibling) out of the homeless shelter.
    Food for thought

  71. I should say at the outset that we have long had a heat pump to air condition two rooms in our house, and in the winter it provides supplementary heat. Our challenge in converting entirely to heat pumps for heating is that we have radiant heat which we love in our kitchen and living room driven by a gas furnace and radiators operating off that furnace throughout the rest of the house. We could keep the radiant heated living room and kitchen and convert the rest of the house heating to heat pump, but we would still be using the gas fired furnace for the radiant heat.

  72. I recently replaced my furnace (gas/forced hot water) so replacing it soon would not be feasible. I’m also very concerned about heat pumps not functioning well in very cold weather. I do have a mini-split in the master bedroom and love it, but then again, if it gets super cold I’m under the covers so it doesn’t matter! Will, thanks for taking the time for us to give input.

  73. We live in a single family in Watertown. We recently had to have our sewer pipe re-lined, and have had emergency foundation repair work this year. We are still paying off these repairs and will be for a long time. So we are not able to absorb any more up-front costs for home projects. Especially in this terrible economy with almost 10% inflation (thanks for nothing Joe Biden!).

    We have a 20-year old gas furnace that works well, so we will probably not be updating the system until it dies or needs major repair.

  74. I’m not sure how to answer these questions – we have four mini-splits, which we use for heating/cooling most of the year, but from November – April we use our natural gas. We also have solar panels on the roof. We used to have the heat programmed to turn down about 8 degrees during the day M-F while we were at work and at night while we slept, but now we’re mostly working from home, so we need to keep the house warm enough to type on our computers. We still turn it down at night.

  75. I live in a 5-story building, in the Fenway, Boston, with 27 units. I own mine, a unit with about 475 Sq Ft, 2 rooms, a bathroom & kitchen. I am 79, with age, health issues. I am certainly not “well off” and could not afford to change from gas & electricity to greener technology. I have an in-unit gas furnace which I have yet to turn on & may not. My Stove is gas but not burning constantly, pilot lights. Turning it on involves an electric spark to light a burner. I bought a small plug-in “Alpha” heater with 500 watts, used in my bedroom, Hi &Lo settings, temperature control, and closing my room door at night on LO it heats the room sufficiently for comfort, generally, my thermometer says 73+ degrees. I expect even on cold days, not to see large gas bills or electric bills. But changing to a greener option in a condo unit is very limited to such as suppliers.

  76. When we moved in 27 years ago, we changed the 1949 oil furnace for a then-modern gas one. I’ve thought about heat pumps, but I love our hot-water heating and understand it doesn’t work with heat pumps, or at least not as well.

  77. We spent a decade working towards fully electrifying our 1700 sq ft 1938 home (upgraded electrical panel to 200 amp service, solar panels, insulation, electric car, induction stove), culminating in installing a Ground Source Heat Pump in 2019 to replace our leaky, inefficient gas-fueled steam heat system that required us to tear out a wall each year to address corroded pipes. The incentives at the time made the direct cost of GSHPs similar to installing an Air Source Heat Pump and it is more efficient. We love having air conditioning for the first time and a climate-friendly heating system, and the GSHPs have worked well all winter. The system has a built-in electric auxiliary heat back up system if we need it, which we largely haven’t.

    My complaints are on how challenging it was to navigate the various incentives and rebates. The Mass Saves reps (phone and in person) weren’t helpful and the website was confusing. Different contractors knew about different incentives and were on different lists to qualify for them. We ended up missing a pretty big one that was whole house electrification ($12k, I think). I also spent two years jumping through all the hoops required to get the rebates (COVID delayed things, too). My family was fortunate to be able to take this on as a risk and pay up front and hope we got all the incentives back in the end, but that is a big financial risk for most people.

    My other complaint was that we only found one contractor who was willing to install GSHP in our constrained lot. GSHPs are such an efficient technology even here in New England and I would hope there are training programs to expand the number of available contractors.

  78. A year ago we spent a large amount of money to purchase the most efficient gas system we could. What we could afford is not the same as what we might be willing to spend. We’d need significant incentive to replace a brand new expensive system.

  79. We had a mini split contractor assess our situation and he told us that the splits would not heat or cool the rear of the second floor of our house due to the layout of the addition we constructed 19 years ago.

  80. i’m interested in heat pumps that will work with existing hot water heaters* (currently powered by oil), but as I share heat with my neighbors as part of our small condo trust, I am not willing to take on personal debt for a shared utility. our trust is not able to take out loans. we spend so much on oil, we aren’t able to save up for conversion (we usually have around $3-4k “reserve” that gets used up for small maintenance projects). so we are in a catch-22.
    * an energy audit of my 1890 house showed minisplits would not be very effective

  81. I will consider adding to my electric energy when this country gets serious and comes up with a comprehensive long term energy strategy. The grid is held together by a shoe string, we have no plan for additional secure source of electricity generation and we are cutting back on natural gas. Where is our Department of Energy, their plans available on line are a joke. Our governor elect helped kill a pipe line bringing more gas to New England and now there is a risk of power outages. The Federal Government wastes trillions of dollars with no return. This is insanity.

  82. I want a municipal geothermal heat source loop with mini-splits. Geothermal systems are far more efficient than the air sourced systems about which Will is asking, and over time they save considerably more money. Furthermore, they can heat when it is too cold for an air sourced system.
    A while back I investigated a geothermal system. At the time, such a system cost about $75,000. A third of the price would be to dig up our back yard for a geothermal heat source, a third would be to retrofit our house with air ducts, and a third would be for the equipment that pumps the heat to or from the ground and exchanges the heat with the air in the air ducts.
    Imagine if each relatively dense municipality in Massachusetts put a geothermal heat loop under the ground when they did water and sewer maintenance, and sold access to the heat source as a utility. That would reduce the initial cost of a geothermal system by about a third. I recall a WBUR article about someone exploring having Sommerville do this, and a utility company considering doing it in some other Massachusetts municipality.
    If there were a mini-split system available, then that would reduce the cost of a geothermal system by another third for folks who don’t have forced hot air heating or cooling
    If you know what I’m talking about, you can stop reading. If want some background, read on. I am NOT by any means an expert.
    A heat pump pumps heat from one region to another region. With reasonably efficient equipment, the energy required to pump heat is far less than the energy required to produce the heat from other forms of energy be it electricity, gas, or oil. In the summer, an air source heat pump pumps heat from inside air to the outside air. In the winter, it pumps heat from the outside air to the inside air. Even when the outside temperature is below zero degrees F., the air still has heat that can be removed. At best, I believe that the energy required to move the heat is proportional to the temperature difference.
    Air sourced heat pumps are disproportionally less efficient as outside temperatures reach the manufacturer’s minimum supported temperature. Our mini-split system is designed to only work with outside temperatures above 40 degrees F., so in the winter we use our gas furnace. I’m planning to replace the system.
    A geothermal heat pump pumps heat to and from the ground versus the outside air. In New England, ground is always about 50 degrees F. if you dig deep enough. Thus, for a geothermal system, one must bury a deep pipe to exchange heat with the ground. This reduces energy because in the summer, it takes very little energy to so to speak pump heat downhill from house temperatures to ground temperatures. In the winter, geothermal saves even more energy because the difference in temperatures between the 50 degree F. ground temperature to the house temperature is generally less than the difference in temperatures between the outside air and the house temperature.
    Heat pumps work by pumping a liquid called a refrigerant from an evaporator to a condenser. Physically, an evaporator and a condenser are the same, and which is which depends upon the direction you pump the refrigerant.
    In a refrigerator or window air conditioner, the evaporator and condenser are physically close to each other.
    Traditional central air has one condenser, one evaporator, air ducts carry the heated or cool air throughout the house.
    By contrast, a mini-split has a condenser/evaporator outside, and one condenser/evaporator in each room. The unit can either pump refrigerant to individual mini-splits, or from individual mini-splits.

  83. There are several comments discussing solar. Are you aware that large sections of Boston, (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, South End, Fenway and maybe more) are not allowed to net meter solar installations due to exemptions given to the utility companies because they claim the electrical infrastructure is obsolete. Only recently battery storage has become feasible but includes inherent lithium-ion battery fire risk. I would have installed solar on my brownstone 10 years ago if allowed. There is talk of banning new natural gas hook-ups in the city but no one ever mentions the inability to use solar in these neighborhoods. How about advocating for grid improvements.

  84. From my experience with heat pumps in Maryland in the 90s, where it is warmer in the winter, I am NOT in favor of them- uneven heat and cooling. Perhaps they have improved since then, but am not sure. It still seems that lots of heat is produced than it goes off and cools down, then goes on again= still uneven heat.

    1. I have a new high performance heat pump which replaced a 12 year old energy star rated heat pump. The new one is far superior to the old one and is rated to 10 below zero. It’s a Bosch. Your experience is consistent with the old one. The new one takes a while to start working when turned on but then it delivers consistent warm air and is really quite compared to the old (the supplemental heater has not turned on yet this winter). I’m really happy with it.

  85. I haven’t read the comments above; just reporting my own experience. We (spouse and I) own our condo in a early-1900’s 3-family building. We put in minisplits/heat pumps 10 years ago. In those 10 years, we’ve saved $1000 a year in TOTAL energy costs. I emphasize “total” because too many people say ” my electric bills will go through the roof” and don’t even think that they won’t be buying oil. We now use maybe a half tank of oil per YEAR.
    We took advantage of the rebates and the interest-free heat loan. We laid out $10 grand for the system. Now (10 years) that loan is paid off. One way of looking at this is: we got a 10% return on our 10-year investment.
    How many investments do that well??
    And the air conditioning is GREAT. No pulling wall units in and out, and they are whisper-quiet. LOVE them.

    1. Keep in mind Germany also sees a higher average temperature in winter than Massachusetts does – 37 in Germany vs. 32 in MA. Big difference when it comes to heating needs and the realistic effectiveness of heat pumps compared to those averages.

  86. I found the last batch of O confusing, seemed not to be connected to whatever the question(s) asked for so I did not fill in any of them. We purchased our 1904 built colonial style single family home (Watertown) in 1978. We were Watertown bred but were absent for a number of years during my 20 year Marine Corps career. Upon purchase of the house I began research on heat saving possibilities, during which I found the original blueprints which were very useful for installing insulation. I then replaced the gravity warm air furnace with a forced warm air furnace; these renovations reduced our oil consumption from 1400 gallons to 500 gallons per winter, of course, there were variable years due to weather fluctuations. In regard to my civilian occupation(s) I was down sized or voluntarily departed out of management type positions within 8 years and began looking for something that provide me with control over my destiny. I drew up a list of my interests and focused on what was immediately possible; the research project pertaining to renovating our home stood out, there was a trade school nearby, “New England Fuel Institute” located on Summer St just a few blocks from my home on Riverside St, a one month course for $1000. after which I qualified as a certified heat technician on oil fired heat appliances (furnaces; boilers; oil heaters). I went to work with a church friend of mine, initially working out of the trunk of one of my older cars, then to an very old van and eventually purchased the business (H&M Heating Specialists) winding up with three new vans completely stocked with everything imaginable required for repair parts; and new oil burners. Didn’t sell oil. In 1999 I retired, and shortly after had two of my sons install the famous mini-slip wall mounted a/c units that came with heat pump. It is a four bedroom, two floor house with a full basement and attic, but we outfitted two of the bedrooms and the living room with the wall units. The living room unit takes care of the first floor (L/R; D/R; Kitch; FrntHall). My cost was about $7500 which included material and labor but….avoided profit part because I purchased the gear at wholesale.
    The two remaining B/R’s get outfitted with small window a/c units. This winter is the first time that we have utilized the units with the heat pump advantage. Typically our monthly electric bill is $150 – $185 however this summer we hosted friends from the UK and the bill spiked to $366. With the recent rate increase the monthly E bill is at $175. Have yet to get the bill that includes the use of the HP. Oil during 2019-2021 was avg $3 to 3.89/gal; ~ March 2022 @$5.10; ~Nov @5.99 for 93 gallons=$557.99 ~ this does not bold well for someone on a defined annual income. I have an adequate Marine Corps Annuity accompanied by a tax free combat related disability, plus swiftly diminishing IRA’s. We will get by, but the frequency of traveling the 50 odd miles to visit 3 of our scattered children (the 4th could afford to purchase in Watertown) has considerably diminished. So let’s get to the meat of this fossil fuel problem. Most ALL of the electricity produced comes from consumption of fossil fuels. China produces the solar panels and those towering wind turbines. Also most of our medicines. In case you are unaware, the Chinese Communist Government is our mortal enemy; if you do not know that your head is in the wrong location. Electric motor vehicles for the unwashed masses? Surely you jest. Nation wide motor vehicle travel (don’t forget TRUCKS), charging stations will have to be supplied with fossil consuming electricity producing generators. Lead time to produce the generators that supply the electric grid amounts to 18 MONTHS if you can acquire the parts. Does ANYONE know the results of an EMP attack? Did you understand the limitations of our medical capability when COVID came upon the scene? EMP will make that look like child’s play. A clue of the cost, still with us; my 26 year old granddaughter, a RN for 4 years, earns $6500 a WEEK, on a contract with Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. There are yet not enough qualified nurses, medical staff and supplies. Can you imagine what is happening in Ukraine. Well, I got somewhat off topic but it is all connected. We are being destroyed from within.

  87. Heat pumps depend on electricity and the change in carbon emissions must be calculated back to the generation. Our current grid is not up to the demands which many expect. EVs and electric powered climate control require much more power than we use now. Solar can partially help but will not be able to replace current sources anytime soon. We must first start to upgrade distribution and increase generation before any of these loads are added to the system. Battery materials are limited, their extraction is not very carbon free and their mining and processing are very polluting. Copper is limited also.
    Another comment is that these systems all seem to be to for hot air. Anyone who has that type of heat realizes that their floors are cold because the old type boilers gave off heat which would warm the floors above. Hot water radiator heating is both more temperature steady and much more quiet (I just came from a visit in a house with forced hot air). Many varieties of fuel can be used to achieve this. Coal, Oil, Nat Gas, solar, geothermal and even a nuclear pile!
    In a very cold temp situation I am not sure air heat pumps can keep up with the demand to keep a house warm. That leaves resistance heating to take up the slack which would put extra demand at a very high use time. Geothermal should work much better then but the upfront costs are much higher.
    In reply to another comment: $50K is a sizeable amount to me and I live in a $1M+ house.

  88. Is a central unit greener than mini splits:
    I have ducts but was told by an HVAC technician they were not conducive to central AC. He suggested mini splits would be a better option if we wanted AC.
    Also, the same technician said we would need to do work to ensure the ducts don’t sweat and develop mold in the summer. (He didn’t say why that is not a problem with warm air going through in the winter.)

  89. Currently subsidies are only available for full conversion of your heating system. Wouldn’t it help to have a heat pump as an add on? Then we need subsidies.
    Also, MassSave has not been helpful to me in my condo. Our roof needs more insulation. What can we do?

  90. Would like to do this but contractors need access to our third floor, where I’m writing a book. When it’s published, maybe then.

  91. I can see that there is a push to install heat pumps, but I have two observations:
    1. These are not efficient at all when temperatures drop below 0 Celsius. That’s the case most time of the winter and that is based on the energy used (KW/h), not on price, which could be deceiving.
    2. Installers of heat pumps are most often abusers of public money. They price their service in such a way, so that they can take advantage of the generous public incentives. My example: I asked MassSave about 10 years regarding installing a heat pump for me. They quoted $23,000 for a 36,000 BTU, 4 indoor units mini-split. I found this scandalous. When I asked why so high (given that the actual equipment is in the ballpark of $5-6,000), they told me that they have a big overhead. About 8 years after that conversation, I met a guy who did the job for me for $7,5000 – all included. He did the job in 1.5 days (12 man-hours). He charged me for his labor $2,000, which I found fair – about $150-200/hour. By comparison MassSave were expecting 3 times more (about $600/hour). I do find this to be an abuse and that most of these contractors exploit the public investment.

    Regarding MassSave: they came, blew some insulation in my walls – that’s good. I have no idea how much they have blown, but I saw them working for 3-4 hours. They charged the State $1500 and me – $500. At the end of their work, they put some blower on my front door, some polyethylene and measured the pressure in my house. They were expecting to see that the pressure in my house drops more than it was before they started the work. A couple of issues with this one: 1. They didn’t measure the pressure before starting the work. 2. When I asked them whether this is really measuring anything, they were honest and told me that it is just a paperwork, and their test is bogus. I never saw my gas bills going noticeably down. That’s what one can expect from a company that is doing the work and checking the outcome quality of it. There must be better way to administer the public money.

    Some suggestions that come to my mind:
    1. The State should develop a fair pricing for services that are partially paid by public money. Contractors will need to adhere to these caps. I find fair prices for such labor to be ~$150/hour.
    2. It might be time for the State to consider investing in geo-thermal heat pumps. These, combined with solar and very modestly sized batteries could be the real breakthrough, giving household nearly complete grid independence, thus alleviating the grid for more productive purposes.

  92. The Massachusetts Commission on Clean Heat recently issued a report on the issues regarding a transition from heating with fossil fuels to electricity. One recommendation is that the state establish a Building Decarbonization Clearinghouse. It would include existing MassSave programs, but also serve as a one-stop shop for all incentive programs and technical assistance available to assist converting to non-fossil fuel systems. It also called for an aggressive outreach and publicity campaign.

  93. The survey questions miss a number of important scenarios. For anybody with central AC, when that equipment wears out the incremental cost (particularly after rebates, assuming the rebates work out like one thinks they will — which should not be assumed), the incremental cost to replace compressors with heat pumps is quite low. There will also be added savings on cooling in comparison to a standard compressor. Homes with central air by definition already have ducts as well, so you don’t need mini-splits. Thus, one can add the flexibility for heat pumps even if the core fossil heating equipment remains in place. This is the second element missing: I was not willing to trust that heating load could be met only by heat pumps, so, at least for now, view them as supplementing rather than replacing our baseline fossil system. Maybe that will change once the heat pumps prove themselves, but even if not, my expectation is that they will cover heating load on many days that aren’t super cold but during which I would have previously relied on oil.

  94. I think the questions discuss costs in a scary way and doesn’t well mention that the long-run costs of heat pumps is far lower than that of oil

  95. People like me who live in a condominium building do not have a choice about the type of heat we get.

  96. Making a good income now, but nearing retirement and concerned about affordability- both upfront cost and ongoing expenses. Did solar panels about 10 years ago – still paying them off and somewhat regretful about it; never saw financial benefit pitched, and company is out of business making ongoing service/support challenging. Assume the panels are better for the world on balance, but not sure they were better for us financially. It’s hard as an individual homeowner to do all the research and make the best choice of new/emerging and sometimes very expensive solutions.

  97. The unstated elephant in the room is the source of the electricity to run the heat pump. At present, any marginal increase in demand for electricity is met by gas-burning power plants (best case) or diesel or even coal plants (worst case). I don’t see how exchanging my gas-burning boiler for the electric company’s gas-burning generator reduces my carbon footprint. True, heat pumps are more efficient that gas boilers, although only above some temperature that I’m not even sure what it is. On the other hand, the electric distribution network has significant losses. In other words, I don’t know how to really know whether converting my gas boiler to a heat pump will actually reduce carbon emissions. So I’m not willing to invest a lot of my own money in converting just for the sake of a maybe/maybe-not environmental benefit. If our electrical grid were completely non-carbon (solar, wind, nuclear, etc.), that would be a different story. Maybe this question is just premature.

  98. The earth’s climate has changed many times over its history, and the changes had nothing to do with human energy use. For example, Greenland used to be much greener enticing the Vikings to settle there. It got colder and they left. Now it is getting warmer again. Thus there is no proof that we humans are causing the current warming, nor that our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint will end it. I purchased solar panels for our home because I believe renewable energy and reducing pollution is a good idea. But the current “crisis” mentality is full of fear mongering and hubris, a la Michael Crichton’s State of Fear.

    1. 100% agree with this comment – plus since climate data has been collected only for a short period of time, we have no idea what the climate was like hundreds, thousands of years ago. I’m inclined to believe this is all part of a normal cycle that will happen regardless of any emissions we are adding to the atmosphere.

  99. A word to the wise regarding heat pumps – your electric bill will be SIGNIFICANTLY higher using them. Last January my boiler died. I have a heat pump in the living room that I usually use for AC but also has a heat setting. I kept the heat pump at a low temperature setting – high enough so my pipes wouldn’t freeze while my boiler was being replaced but not a comfortable temperature for living. The electric bill the next month was absurd. Much higher than my customary electric bill plus customary gas bill added together. This was with running only one heat pump. So if you are considering converting from gas to a heat pump, expect your heating costs to increase.
    For those with oil heat it might be an option to consider since the price of oil has increased a lot. I can only speak for gas heat.
    Either way, DO YOUR RESEARCH before making any decisions. A $10K rebate sounds enticing but not when you factor in how much more your cost of heating could increase over time.

  100. I have been convinced that, although going green sounds desirable . . .
    Creating an adequate supply of energy from any source other than fossil fuels . . .
    1. Seems to be thwarted by local weather patterns, landscape, proximity to bird sanctuaries and migration patterns, to name just a few conditions.
    2. Many of the methods for switching to electricity as primary energy still requires fossil fuel, to a very large tune!
    Finally, I believe the arguments that a reduction in use of fossil fuels will not change global temperatures appreciably — unless China joins in the effort, anyway. We are currently in a warming trend that follows natural, historical climate cycles, and what humans are relatively adding to temperatures is insignificant.
    Finally — yes, finally finally — sulfur and nitrogen aerosols created using fossil fuels actually counter the effect of carbon and methane emissions.

  101. With this constant push for heat pumps and EV’s I’d like to know where the electricity to power them and the grid to handle it is coming from. Solar panels and windmills aren’t going to cut it during single digit temperatures at night and the nimbys fight every attempt to bring in power – the Northern Pass line from Hydro-Quebec for instance. I’ll stick with my natural gas boiler, thank you very much.

  102. I have been interested in a heat pump for a while, and twice had contractors come out to give me an estimate for a geothermal system. Neither of them ever got back to me. After the Inflation Reduction Act passed, which included more incentives, I started to do more research. It is not easy to get information on heat pumps from MassSave. My two emails to them were never answered, and when I called they knew nothing about the federal programs, but suggested that whoever I hired would. While ideally I would prefer to move to an all-electric system, I am concerned it might not provide adequate heat at colder temperatures. The existing system is a hybrid, with most of the house served by forced hot air, but with radiators in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry. The basement has no direct heat source, but the warmth from the gas furnace keeps it adequate for our home gym. Making sure the pipes down there do not freeze is also an issue. The state’s requirement that the dwelling meet the weatherization recommendations of a home energy assessment to get the whole-house rebate might be another barrier. Our house is insulated, but a few years ago a MassSave rep suggested we replace the windows. While old, they are tight and in good condition, with conventional storm windows. It would be a very expensive to project to get new ones. Finally, a friend recently replaced his all electric forced hot air furnace/heat pump with a new one from Bosch, at a cost of $16,000. Not sure if he got any rebates. When winter ends I will ask him how it went in terms of cost and keeping his home warm.

  103. Does there exist an ASHP that is linked to a FHW system ? Should be an easy technical problem to solve, and a great solution for those of us with existing FHW systems. It might not work for cooling but an easy installation, and also easy to keep the existing gas/oil burner in reserve for the rare ultra cold days when heat pumps are inadequate. I would definitely consider such a conversion for my 1915 Belmont home.

  104. Living in an old bow front to property converted to condo means that all 3 units would need to agree. This could make more sense to spend conversion dollars if savings are to be had – beyond carbon savings alone.

  105. Living in an apartment building I feel a little left out, kind of like when we talk about electric cars or solar panels. Replacing the gas boiler in the building’s basement with minisplits per unit makes no sense (probably?). The buildings here are wall to wall and a few to several stories tall. Which technologies make sense here?

    The units are owned by individual condo owners and the building managed by a third party. Decisionmaker-wise, this makes me think of solar panels on the roof, how that probably won’t happen any time soon. E.g., I doubt my land lord in New Jersey cares what Massachusetts emissions are.

    But there is the idea someone told me about of community solar, where I might buy a share in a larger solar installation somewhere in the neighborhood. What is the heat pump equivalent to that? Is there a city block scale piece of equipment that operates on the same principles as small heat pumps, maybe using geothermal? If it were cheap (or subsidized), the land lords here might go for it. Energy prices were part of the reason mine gave for raising the rent.

    Btw. I’ve barely had to open the valves on my radiators this fall. I’m typing this in short sleeves with the heat off. Whether I feel left out or not, it maybe is right to start this planning with the focus being on single family homes.

  106. I had 5 mini-split heat pumps installed this past spring through Mass Save/ Homeworks. My home is less than 1,000 square feet and 2 heat pumps would have been sufficient, however, in order to receive the $10,000 rebate, I had to agree to 5 heat pumps. They have been a disappointment regarding heat, and I do not want to use the oil furnace as a supplemental heat source. Consequently, my house is chilly. It has proved to be no savings whatsoever yet.

  107. I live in a multi-unit building in Brighton. Heating costs in MA are atrocious. The onus should be on government and business to be carbon neutral, and convert to green energy and provide subsidies to individual homeowners, not the other way around.

  108. I am in favor of heat pumps and cutting fossil fuel use. However, my responses on this survey are rather hypothetical as I cannot afford any outlay right now, due to unemployment. Although I own my own home, I receive heat assistance.

  109. The whole idea of installing heat pumps has been dropped on the public out of the blue a couple years ago with out any preliminary education, or preparation for us average citizens. In order to grasp the full concept and even with an understanding of it the availability for installation is challenging, the cost is prohibitive in many cases and the meager rebates apparently offered by at least our town of Belmont are too small to provide any incentive.
    There needs to be a very large subsidy by our government if we want to reach our 2030 climate goals. People are not jumping on the band wagon now with inflation, or they have already installed new furnaces and boilers. The motivation is just not there on a large scale.
    Also agree with Steve above the survey assumes everyone ifs familiar with the technology and want to aid in reaching the carbon emissions goals by 2030.

  110. I’ve had a heat pump in the past & the heating cost using electricity was very expensive. I worry about the integrity of the electrical grid (see North Carolina). We own a 3 family (townhouses) & have upgraded to gas, forced air systems removing the radiators and installing vents. We also replaced all our windows & have much greater efficiency. I will not consider having to rely on electricity for heat in New England winters.

  111. We recently replaced our heating / cooling system last winter/spring to a high efficiency natural gas system. We live in back bay in a multi-unit brownstone (which presents challenges). We considered a heat pump but like others have commented here, we were advised that heat pumps can be less effective in our area because of cold winters and we would likely need a supplemental electric heating add on to the heat pump.

    Reducing our carbon footprint is really important to us, but ultimately we weren’t convinced that using more electricity to operate a heat pump + supplemental heating unit is actually cleaner than natural gas. We ended up deciding to go with the most efficient natural gas model available. The source of electric power is out of our control and could come from carbon producing fuels. So my big question is as we (collective “we”) increase electricity load by moving to “cleaner” heating units, how can we be sure we’re not shifting carbon pollution from one source to another (e.g natural gas burning furnace to fossil fuel powered electrical grid)?

  112. I own a small (1130 sq.ft.) home on the Cape that has oil heat and a baseboard, forced hot water heating system. I put in the mini-splits/heat pump system mostly for its air conditioning function; window units are so inefficient and unwieldy. I used the heating function this fall to avoid turning on the oil burner and found that the units did a great job keeping the house comfortable. To the extent the mini-splits don’t works as efficiently as other systems in really cold weather (or so I’ve been told) I will rely on the oil burner for heating the house – when it does get really cold. Electricity is expensive, so balancing the cost of electricity versus the cost of oil (also expensive) is the trick. One big plus: THE MINI-SPLITS ARE SO QUIET!

  113. I rent a condo. It is a brick rowhouse in Arsenal Court, it is completely electric and we each have a heat pump. I am quite happy with the heat pump and find the cost of electricity similar to the last apartment where I had both gas and electric. It would be nice to have ground-source heat pumps; I understand they are much more effective. But you need lots of land for that.

  114. While net zero is an admirable goal, is it even really achievable in a world where our enemies, foreign and domestic, are looking at ways to attack our electric utility infrastructure? Can our current infrastructure handle the addition of millions of homes and electric cars to the grid? And while many of us would like to improve our carbon footprints, our pocketbooks don’t always match our climate ideals. If government buildings would lead the way in converting to low carbon emission systems, the costs would drop and pave the way for the average middle income homeowner to consider it for real. To be fair we are talking about converting to electric to get to net zero when millions of people have just criss-crossed the country on planes over Thanksgiving, and are ready to do it again in a few weeks. The jury is still out.

  115. We have a gas boiler and radiators in a 1927 single-family. We added mini-splits to 4 rooms. Inside units were “floor mount”, look kinda like radiators, very attractive. High on the wall mini-splits not suitable for this house. For summer A/C, the untreated rooms get by OK. In winter, less so. However, these untreated rooms have no good option for heat pumps. No wall space, bathroom for example. Radiators do a great job heating in winter, and why oh why will no one come up with an electric boiler? That would be the easiest changeover.

  116. We have a home that is over 100 years old and does not have ducts. There are new electric codes in Massachusetts. I don’t see any information about the added cost to bring the electric system and box up to code for a heat pump and mini splits to meet the current electric code.

  117. We added a Fujitsu mini-split ductless heat pump to our 100+ year old single family home in 2014 in collaboration with Mass Save. At that time, there was a small rebate and interest free monthly loan payments spread over a 7 year period with the total cost being around $10,000. There are small diameter flexible pipes connecting from the outdoor 3′ x 3′ pump that continue both along the outside walls and along the basement ceiling to reach the indoor units. We decided to do 3 rooms at that time, 2 downstairs and 1 upstairs so that there are a total of 3 indoor units. We still have a forced hot water oil furnace which we keep generally at 55 F degrees, keep doors between rooms closed, and also wear extra clothes. Our pump continues to produce heat with temperatures approaching 0 degrees F.
    We’d like to add a 2nd pump to heat the remaining rooms and to turn our furnace into more of a back up source. We are retired so would definitely be looking to rebates and interest free loans to make this possible.
    Looking for more information about how to make this happen.
    Thank you, Senator Brownsberger, for hopefully helping to make this and other green transitions possible.

  118. I am not against solar panels, but one of the reasons that these panels are manufactured in countries where there are fewer environmental controls is because the chemicals used in the manufacturing process are more easily disposed of with little to no oversight. In the US there are very strict/necessary rules about the disposal of these chemicals: “The toxic chemicals in solar panels include cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide, copper indium gallium (di)selenide, hexafluoroethane, lead, and polyvinyl fluoride. Additionally, silicon tetrachloride, a byproduct of producing crystalline silicon, is highly toxic.” For the purpose of this email, I won’t address the millions of tons toxic waste created when these panels need to be retired.
    One area where I see a real opportunity is wind power. I’m not referring to about the massive wind turbines we see dotting the landscape. These turbines if placed near homes can create a very noticeable harmonic sound, which are very annoying to neighborhoods. I am referring to the small roof mounted wind turbines, which are not significantly bigger than many satellite dishes and that very low/acceptable decibel levels. Each one by itself doesn’t generate a massive amount of electricity, but collectively could have a meaningful impact. They do not create the level of toxic waste, last longer than solar panels do and are more easily recyclable.
    Solar panels only have an efficiency of 18%- 22% compared with Wind turbines on average harness 60% of the energy that passes through them.
    I’m not proposing an either-or choice, because a lot depends on where you live, your elevation and how much sunlight you can obtain. I can safely say that a wind turbine on my chimney, where we have a clear shot at the Boston skyline, receives almost constant wind 24/7, 365 days a year, vs the amount of useable daylight we receive a few hours a day.
    Is anyone looking at small, quiet roof top wind turbines for Massachusetts homes?

  119. Will – Not a comment so much as a clarification on my response. We have a gas-fired boiler which generates steam heat for our 1920’s radiators. However we added insulation to the exterior of the house when we added on to it and the addition is heated and cooled by electric heat pumps. Only during the coldest times does our steam boiler come on. I feel that we have two main heating systems and so the survey doesn’t strictly cover our situation.

  120. 1. One issue not covered by the survey questions is the fact that multi-family condo trusts require a vote of the trustees before making changes to the exterior or common areas of the building. So people like me, who own a condo in a 2-family, can’t make that decision independently.
    2. I answered the survey saying I’d wait till end-of-life on my current gas heating system (installed in 2015, so relatively new). But my true answer would be “maybe” — I could be persuaded to convert to heat pumps earlier with incentives.

  121. One issue is the electrical problem: if you have knob and tube, this needs to be replaced before weatherization.

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