Fighting Climate Change with Heat Pumps

Geez, it’s hot. We’ve been sweltering through record-high temperatures here in California. Our house is one of the 30% of California homes without air conditioning. And our furnace is getting older. If we replaced our furnace with a heat pump, we could get efficient heating and efficient cooling all in one. And we’d be doing our part to move the decarbonization-via-building-electrification ball forward. So we’re getting heat pump curious.

Joe Biden is excited about heat pumps. He recently invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up domestic production, and the Inflation Reduction Act includes generous heat pump tax credits and rebates. Governor Gavin is also heat-pumped. He’s offering rebates to California households that will help him meet his target of 6 million new residential heat pumps by 2030.

Some recent research out of UC Davis finds that, for households that are installing AC for the first time, or households that need to replace their old air conditioner with a new unit, it makes climate sense to make the AC a heat pump and replace the furnace. We’re pretty convinced we have a heat pump in our future. For us, the question is not whether to heat pump…but when?

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UC Davis Developing Tech Using Current Air Conditioning Systems to Combat Climate Change Effects

DAVIS, Calif. (KGO) — The Western Cooling Efficiency Center at UC Davis is trying to develop new air technology that addresses problems with the grid and the challenges of climate change using our current AC systems.

This research would address the problem of energy consumption in peak periods on hot days.

“The grid is stressed late afternoon and what occurs is that there’s too much demand for electricity. One way to address that is to use a battery. This new technology instead of using a battery uses a liquid that absorbs moisture and by using this liquid that absorbs moisture it acts like a battery but is much less expensive that a battery for doing the same thing,” said Mark Modera, the former Director of the Cooling Efficiency Center.

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Heat pumps: Coming to a home near you?

Washington building code proposal prompts debate as Inflation Reduction Act could spur Heat Pump use.


Karl Johnson was just looking for a way to keep his Corbin Park home, built in the early 20th century, comfortable.

The gas-fed furnace was on its way out, and his central air conditioner had already failed. To cool the home, Johnson had several portable units running throughout the day in the summer, belching hot air back into the rooms and driving up his energy bill each month.

“At some point, it’s just insanity to keep up with trying to address the issue,” Johnson said.

So he started researching central air systems online and settled on a heat pump for his home – a combination heating and cooling, electrified system that policymakers and the White House have been pushing as a method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, which passed the Senate by a razor-thin 51-50 vote on Sunday, includes a major boost for climate-friendly energy systems, including heat pumps. 

The bill includes rebates and incentives for the purchase of heat pumps for both air and water conditioning in residential structures. The legislation would provide rebates of up to $8,000 to install heat pumps in homes for the next decade, according to Bloomberg. Those who wouldn’t qualify for the rebate could still get tax credits of up to $2,000.

The inflation act also piggybacks on a decision made by President Joe Biden in June to use the Defense Production Act to spur domestic production of appliances that help curb carbon emissions, including heat pumps, by providing $500 million in that effort, according to The Hill.

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Do DIY air filters work against California wildfire smoke? What to know about cost and safety

Do-it-yourself air filters are safe, effective and can be used to protect your lungs from California wildfire smoke.

Wildfire smoke is harmful and can stretch hundreds of miles. The smoke from the 2021 Dixie Fire in California was felt as far as Denver, The New York Times reported. Here are two safe options, according to the University of California, Davis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

Good air filters can remove dangerous smoke particles from your home. According to the California Air Resources Board, indoor air cleaners help filter out small particulate matter that can cause health concerns.

Wildfire smoke produces harmful air pollutants that can aggravate existing health problems and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The resource board recommends using a certified air cleaner whenever the air quality index is at an unhealthy level, which you can check at The agency also says if a board-certified commercial system is not an option for your home, a DIY is an OK alternative.

“These temporary air cleaners should be used with extreme caution, and only if other air cleaning options are unavailable,” the board writes on its website. It says never leave the device unattended and only use box fans manufactured in the last 10 years (after 2012), as those fans “will have a fused plug, which will prevent electrical fires if the device is knocked over.”

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The Pandemic Has Suddenly Shined Light On Long-Neglected Indoor Air Concerns

For more than 25 years, Tom Smith has run 3Flow, a company whose sole mission is to make sure people don’t get sick from airborne hazards in their workplaces.

He suddenly has the attention of a lot of employers who never really gave thought to it before the pandemic.

Typically, Smith’s team focuses on how the air moves through places like labs or factories, but since the pandemic started, his business has been getting calls about open layout offices, conference rooms and auditoriums.

“A lot of people have found out that their systems are dysfunctional,” Smith said.

Office spaces are often a lot harder to work with than labs, Smith said, because they weren’t designed with floating pathogens in mind, and the systems have not been well maintained. He says there’s a simple reason for that: it wasn’t required.

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Worried About Returning to the Office? What to Ask Your Boss to Ensure You’re Safe

As employees and students prepare for their return to offices and classrooms, an NBC Bay Area investigation reveals a surprising lack of oversight regarding indoor air quality, which may have led to more COVID-19 infections and deaths.  Experts argue the problem existed well before the pandemic and continues to threaten workplaces and schools across the country.

A lack of education, awareness, and accountability may be leading to hazardous indoor air conditions inside a wide array of buildings throughout the nation.  One study found 85% of classrooms had inadequate air ventilation, allowing toxins to accumulate.

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UC Davis Developed Sealing Technology Raises $22 Million from Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Aeroseal LLC, a company with a technology to better insulate buildings, raised $22 million from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund backed by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates. The technology, AeroBarrier, was developed at UC Davis by professor emeritus Mark Modera.

Air leaks in buildings waste energy and can cause moisture and indoor air quality problems. Current methods for tightening building shells have relied primarily on manual sealing methods that are labor intensive and often insufficient. AeroBarrier improves energy efficiency in homes and offices by pressurizing a building while applying an aerosol “fog” to the interior. As the air escapes through leaks in the shell of the building, the aerosolized sealant is transported to the leaks, and seals them as the particles try to escape from the building.

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Sac City schools Paid $6 Million for Costly Air Cleaners with Unnecessary Features

In the race to reopen schools, districts across California and the country are beefing up safety measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus — more masks, more sanitizers, new plastic barriers. As part of the effort, Sacramento City Unified School District purchased more than $6 million worth of classroom air cleaners and replacement parts in November, at a cost of $688 per device. But several experts have identified potential concerns about the devices, saying the air cleaners that Sacramento City schools purchased are overpriced, inefficient and have unnecessary and unproven technology.

Sac City Unified purchased 6,000 V-PAC SC air cleaners, manufactured by Ultraviolet Devices, Inc., from Johnson Controls. The units, to be deployed in every classroom and common space, have “the best technology for mitigating COVID-19 at a fraction of the cost of other compatible portable filtration devices, such as HEPA filtration devices,” a November school board report stated.

“The COVID-19 virus is destroyed using an Ultraviolet-C light instead of trapping the virus in a filter,” the district report stated… Read Full Article