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Clearing the Path for Clean Heating

With the winter solstice just around the corner, the Northeast’s heating season is in full swing and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from buildings are at their seasonal high. About 85% of homes in New England and New York rely on fossil fuels for heating, and this consumption accounts for about 30% of total regional GHGs. Fossil fuel use for heating also poses health and safety dangers like carbon monoxide poisoning and risk of explosion. The average home in the Northeast spends $1,000-$2,600 on heating fuel every winter, and because the Northeast imports all of its fossil fuels, this money flows out of local economies and the region is beholden to price fluctuations out of its control.

A clean alternative to fossil fuel heating is efficient, electric heat pumps.

What is a Heat Pump and What Are Its Benefits?

A heat pump is an electric heating and cooling technology for buildings that works by moving heat between the inside and outside of a building. A standard air conditioner is a type of heat pump that extracts heat from inside a building and moves it outside.  A heat pump uses this same cooling process in the summer, and it is able to reverse the process in the winter for heating.

Heat pumps offer many benefits over fossil fuels, including:

 

Clearing the Path for Clean Heating

No state or city can reach its climate and clean energy goals if fossil fuel heating continues. With their significant pollution and consumer benefits, heat pumps deserve to be more widely adopted in the Northeast. Acadia Center supports 7 key solutions to overcoming barriers to heat pump adoption:

 

Acadia Center is in the final stages of developing a report called “Clean Heating Pathways” that identifies  supportive policies across New England and New York to accelerate these 7 solutions and compares state progress to advance clean heating.

 

by Emily Lewis O’Brien, Director, Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center and Matt Rusteika, Senior Policy Analyst

Natural gas is not a clean fuel

Altemose is correct that the Globe overstates the environmental impact of this winter’s reliance on old coal- and oil-fired generating plants.  A May 2018 report from the Acadia Center states  “annual GHG emissions from electricity generation in New England have continued to trend strongly downward since the early 2000s, even when taking the 2017-18 winter into account.”

An even more worrisome aspect of the Globe’s stance on the use of coal and oil on especially frigid winter days is the message that natural gas is a clean fuel.  That is the unrelenting drumbeat of the fossil fuel industry, and it is disturbing to watch the Globe amplify it.

Read the full article from Commonwealth Magazine here.