Living Green in Needham

Energy at Home

Options for efficient space heating and water heating in your home

Check out these Mass Save rebates for upgrading your heating equipment. If you are considering upgrading inefficient heating equipment, it is helpful to start with with a no-cost home energy assessment. Your custom home energy report will include information on rebates.

Some Less Familiar Space and Water Heating Options

Source:  HeatSmart Mass

Central Biomass Heating:

o Technology Description: Central biomass pellet heating technologies use wood pellets to produce heat, much in the same way traditional boilers or furnaces use oil, propane, or natural gas. Biomass heating systems can often integrate into existing heating distribution systems, and can fulfill all of a home’s heating and hot water needs. Systems are fully-automated, do not require manual pellet loading, and require limited maintenance. Wood pellet delivery is available in most parts of the Commonwealth, and systems can be designed to require only three deliveries per year.

o Factors for Suitability: Although there are central biomass furnaces available, most biomass heaters are boilers which means that they connect to hot water distribution systems. Communities with a high prevalence with hot water heating may be well-suited for this technology. Additionally, although biomass pellets can be delivered all over the state, Communities with significant forestry resources and/or a high percentage of existing wood heating may be well-suited for this technology due to greater connection to the woody biomass supply chain and greater existing familiarity with wood heating.

o More information

Air-Source Heat Pumps (“ASHP”):

o Technology Description: While traditional systems burn fuel to create heat, ASHPs work by moving heat in the air into or out of a home. ASHPs are an efficient source of heating and cooling in cold climates like Massachusetts. Specifically, the ASHPs eligible for MassCEC’s residential rebate programs must meet certain cold-climate performance metrics that make them well-suited to providing heating in Massachusetts’ climate. Although they require electricity to operate, efficient ASHPs use 40% to 70% percent less electricity than traditional electric-resistance heating.

o Factors for Suitability: Because ASHPs operate on electricity, Communities with a high penetration of residential solar photovoltaic energy and/or access to cheaper than average electricity may be especially well suited for this technology. Eligible ASHPs typically do not require an existing heating distribution system, so most building types can be retrofitted without distribution upgrades.

o More information

Ground-Source Heat Pumps (“GSHPs”):

o Technology Description: Ground-source heat pumps can provide cost-effective and energy-efficient heating, cooling, and water heating by utilizing the nearly constant temperature underground to heat or cool your home. GSHPs are typically the most efficient type of heat pump. Though they require electricity to operate, efficient GSHPs can provide the same amount of heating for 65% to 75% less than traditional electric-resistance heating.

Factors for Suitability: Because GSHPs operate on electricity, Communities with a high penetration of residential solar photovoltaic energy and/or access to cheaper than average electricity may be especially well-suited for this technology. GSHPs typically use forced air distribution, so communities with a prevalence of newer homes or new construction efforts may be good candidates. Lastly, GSHPs require a minimum of a small yard (at least 1,500 square feet) in order to drill a well for the system. A town with a predominance of parcels with sufficient space for a well may be a good candidate for GSHP campaign.

o More information

Solar Hot Water:

o Technology Description: A solar hot water system captures heat from sunlight and circulates the thermal energy to a property’s water tank. Solar hot water systems reduce the usage of traditional water heating fuels (such as oil, electricity, or propane) and thereby reduce the amount spent purchasing these fuels. These systems do not fully replace conventional water heaters, but can provide up to 80% of a building’s total hot water needs. Solar hot water systems may also be installed to supplement a building’s heating system.

o Factors for Suitability: Households that do not have sufficient roof space for a solar PV system may still have enough roof space for a solar hot water system. For residents who have already installed solar PV, MassCEC offers a $500 PV co-location adder.



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