Douglas County Smart Energy is hosting a series of workshops to offer residents and business owners ductless heat pump systems, which use 25 to 50 percent less energy than electric heat systems.
The coalition teamed up with Spark Northwest and Barnes Heating & Cooling of Sutherlin to put on an energy efficiency campaign called Energize Rogue, which reduces the price of a ductless system and assists customers with installation, incentives and financing.
Robin Wisdom, whose house in the Garden Valley area was featured on the 2017 Smart Energy Green & Solar Tour, had Barnes Heating & Cooling install three ductless heat pumps in her upstairs bedrooms last April.
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"Energy is just getting more and more expensive and we like the thought of using less fossil fuels because they're problematic for the planet," she said. Wisdom also produces much of her own power through solar energy, and sells extra power back to the power company. She said many people can't afford to do everything that would allow them to live off the electrical grid, but heating and cooling is a priority.
Perching high on the wall near the ceiling, the three-by-two-foot remote-controlled pumps have an outside compressor connected by a refrigerant line to an indoor head unit. They don't require duct work all around the house like Wisdom's old system, which broke after 30 years of use.
"The controls are simple to use and it's a real nice addition," Wisdom said. "They're lighter weight and more cost effective. They're cheaper to run and they're less of a hassle to install because they're smaller but they're powerful and you can do heating or cooling."
Ductless heat pumps are often installed within one day and residents with the pumps can customize the system so they don't have to heat the entire house but can distribute air into specific rooms.
"The more energy efficient we can be, the better for the environment, the better for the local economy and the better for hiring local contractors," said Stuart Liebowitz of the Douglas County Global Warming Coalition.
Offering the heat pumps in mass during the workshops allows Barnes Heating & Cooling, the local partner on the project, to offer discounts on the equipment. The company opened in the 1950s as Barnes Fuel Oil and began installing ductless heat pumps in 2007.
"Energy costs are really a substantial part of a person’s income so we'd like to facilitate a way people can save money and also make it affordable for individuals," Liebowitz said.
In all, Wisdom's pumps cost $6,800, and she expects to receive a $1,300 federal tax rebate. She said conserving energy is worth the price, and so far her electric bills haven't increased substantially. She hadn't been using her heat system before getting the pumps, but she was glad to have them this summer to alleviate the triple-digit temperatures and filter the smoke-filled air.
Along with the group purchase discount available at the workshops, community members can also qualify for state tax credits of 50 percent off the heat pump price if they buy it before Dec. 31, when the tax credit sunsets. Pacific Power customers may qualify for $800 to $1,000 in rebates through the Energy Trust of Oregon and Douglas Electric Cooperative members may qualify for $1,000 in rebates if they're upgrading form another electric heat source.
Funding for the project comes from a USDA Rural Business Development Grant.
An Energize Rogue campaign in Jackson County earlier this year led to 73 installations and three jobs created.
The Douglas County Ductless Heat Pump Workshops are set for 6 to 7 p.m. Nov. 7 and 5 to 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Holiday Inn Express, 375 W. Harvard Blvd., Roseburg. Another workshop will be scheduled for January.
For more information, visit energizerogue.org, or call 541-236-5027.