The Peterborough Renewable Energy Project (PREP) is welcoming the new year by introducing a new set of 2024 projects to help our town reach its energy aspirations for a cleaner, safer, healthier future.
Last year, we laid the foundation by setting up infrastructure to support future work. We made connections with other organizations, such as Peterborough’s new community power project, which provides us with an option to bring 100% renewable electricity into our homes. We are expanding our website to provide the information and guidance residents need to get started on their personal energy projects.
In partnership with Harrisville and service provider BlocPower, we applied for and won a Department of Energy grant for $700,000 to promote weatherization and conversion of fossil-fuel heating to efficient cold-climate heat pumps in our towns. And finally, in December, we welcomed Peterborough’s first energy and community planner, Trisha Cheever, who came on board eager to get things moving.
Although 2023 was a good year for Peterborough’s energy work, it was also the planet’s hottest year on record due to carbon pollution, and scientists agree that the pace is accelerating. Our current dependency on dirty, expensive energy is costing us money and threatening our health. However, if we reduce pollution 10% every year, we can end climate change before it’s too late for our kids. Starting later is too late, so what can we do now to slow it down, to protect our families, our homes, and our town from the extreme weather on its way? And how can PREP help?
PREP’s main recommendation is to electrify everything. Sounds simple, right? According to the Rewiring America website, “Around 40% of the United State’s carbon emissions come from our homes and the vehicles we drive. Simply switching everything in our lives to be powered by electricity from renewable energy will go a long way toward getting our emissions down and reducing the impact of a warming world.”
In other words we need to stop burning stuff and find clean sustainable energy sources to power our lives. Here is how we can get started.
-- Upgrade your electricity to the Clean 50 or Clean 100 renewable energy choices through Peterborough Community Power.
-- Weatherize. The cheapest, cleanest energy is the energy we don’t use. Whatever you are currently using for heating or what you eventually plan to use, the first thing you should do is make sure that heat isn’t just going out the windows or up the chimney. A well-insulated, tight and leak-free building is the first step. NHSaves offers assessments of your home, recommendations for fixing problems and money to cover 75% to 100% of the work.
-- Plan ahead to replace aging systems, including heating, cooling, water heaters, appliances and even that old gas-powered car. Most experienced building owners already know that your heating or hot water systems seem to break at the worst time and when you least expect it. When that happens, we are forced to make quick decisions that may not be the best solution for us for the long term.
To help people plan ahead, PREP is working to provide the information we need to make those decisions now so that when that old boiler finally does quit working we know exactly what to replace it with.
-- And finally, consider cold-climate heat pumps to take care of both your heating and air conditioning needs. They are amazingly efficient; the prices are coming down, and government incentives are coming to help you finance your upgrade.
PREP recently announced a $200 incentive for the first 15 people who sign up with BlocPower for their home assessment in 2024 and end up contracting and finishing a heat pump installation. Winners are not required to take advantage of BlocPower financing to qualify. The $200 will be deducted from the cost of the installation and would be in addition to any tax credits, rebates or other incentives from the state or federal government for which you might qualify.
So we’re looking forward to a great 2024. PREP is committed to offering whatever support is needed for the town to start taking steps toward this new, better future. We will do this by continuing to partner with other organizations such as BlocPower who will come in to assess your needs and provide recommendations and financing options at no cost to you. We are constantly updating our website with information and links to help guide you.
We also will be offering workshops on specific topics. “Cold Climate Heat Pumps 101” (in person and online) will take place Saturday, Feb 3, at 10 a.m. at Peterborough Town Library. Zoom registration is at bit.ly/heatpumpworkshopfeb3.
A workshop on clean energy discounts, rebates and tax credits (in person and online) will be Saturday, March 16, at 10 a.m. at Peterborough Town Library. Zoom registration is at bit.ly/savingmoneyworkshopmar16.
Jean Foster is the Outreach Lead for Peterborough Renewable Energy Project.