HeatSmart volunteers, from left, Barbara Baatz, Susan Gilbert, Andy Winslow (coach), Amos Meeks, Brucie Moulton.
HeatSmart volunteers, from left, Barbara Baatz, Susan Gilbert, Andy Winslow (coach), Amos Meeks and Brucie Moulton.
“Arlington’s HeatSmart program has been very successful,” says Andy Winslow, Arlington’s HeatSmart coach.

So far, he said,we’ve had 381 signups, 262 quotes distributed and 85 contracts signed. These include 60 air-source heat pumps, 21 solar hot-water systems and four ground-source heat pumps.

"Because of the program’s success, New England Ductless, one of the installers, will donate one or two air-source heat pumps to a low-to-middle-income customer or community organization,” added Winslow. 

What is HeatSmart?

HeatSmart is a partnership between the state Department of Energy Resources and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), which funds this program. It’s a community-based education program that uses group purchasing to help drive down the cost for residential and small-scale commercial installations of clean heating and cooling technologies. Vetted installers provide quality equipment and installation and, along with local volunteers, help customers understand these new technologies. 

Still time to sign-up

Come learn about HeatSmart’s energy-saving technologies at the following events: 

  • Sept. 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ― Town Day booth, Arlington center;
  • Sept. 24, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. ― Final Meet the Installer event, Wright Locke Farm, 78 Ridge St., Winchester; and
  • Sept. 26, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. ― Public Outreach event focusing on fixed-income residents, Arlington Senior Center.

You’ll also find out about:

  • Seven-year zero-percent-interest Mass Save (www.masssave.com) HEAT loans; and
  • Reductions in incentives beginning Jan. 1, 2020. The state rebate for solar is dropping by 30 percent (from $1,930 to $1,351 for a small system, and from $2,895 to $2,026 for a large system). The federal tax credit for ground-source heat pumps and solar hot water is dropping from 30 to 26 percent off the total installation cost.

Many satisfied customers

HeatSmart customers are pleased with the systems they’ve had installed, and their experience working with the installers.

John Judd

“My experiences with HeatSmart have been fantastic, and I recommend the technology to others ....

“I was interested in energy-efficient heating and cooling because our old ‘tankless’ hot water system never made sense to me. As the price of oil climbed along with the environmental impact of burning it, even during summer, it became obvious that we should change this old system to something different.”

After learning about the HeatSmart program, Judd was convinced that a switch to solar hot water was the way to go. “The HeatSmart presentations this past spring at Town Hall were well run, informative and encouraging. The ability to get useful information in one place and at one time was very helpful.” 

Judd also installed an air-source heat pump (minisplit) for heating/cooling, and has been cool and comfortable ever since. “During the Town Hall presentations I was surprised to learn of the additional heating benefit of the heat pump, and look forward to our first winter with the system, reducing our dependence on ‘fossils’ and doing our share to help the environment ....

“We are pleased with the two companies that the town chose as the installers, and have only high praise for both New England Solar Hot Water and New England Ductless. Both were helpful in explaining how the installations would be done, and were professional and knowledgeable with the available rebates and tax incentives, and guided us though the application process.”

Paul Garmon

Another customer, Paul Garmon, replaced his standard electric hot water heater with a solar hot-water tank. “Solar is a no-brainer, especially with the various rebates and incentives.” 

“I recommend solar hot water, provided there’s enough sun to heat the panel for several hours a day. It should pay for itself within 10 years (and possibly much sooner) and, in the end (after all incentives), seemed to cost only about double what a regular water heater install would cost.

Garmon also purchased an air-source heat-pump system, “mostly because it allows direct control from a mobile app, so I can begin to heat whichever sections of the house I choose a half-hour before I get home. With the old steam system, it took almost an hour to even begin providing heat once the furnace turned on, and then it would heat the entire house. There were no zones, so it was all or nothing.”

“After spending more than $2,000 last winter on fuel oil with the old oil/steam heating system, I realized I had to start thinking about next winter. Hopefully I will use very little oil this winter. I also wanted to be able to cool my upstairs better than with window air-conditioners. I’m glad HeatSmart came along at that time, because having competent installers is critical.”

With the help of HeatSmart and the $25,000 MassSave loan that covered about three-fourths of the work, Garmon finished winterizing his home (and, as plus, probably “summarizing” it as well).

Tom Ehbrecht

Tom Ehbrecht was interested in HeatSmart and energy-efficient heating and cooling because “I see this as key to our family goal of going carbon neutral, in an economical way. By installing an air source heat pump and solar hot water system, most of our household energy use is now electric. It was great timing, because our oil furnace was aging and we avoided buying a new furnace and got a more efficient, green system at the same time.”

“The HeatSmart process has been great! The contractors were very responsive. We had lots of questions and explored a number of different configurations and options, and they were been patient and helpful.”

Richard Winslow

Winslow and his wife are also satisfied HeatSmart customers. “My wife was attracted to the idea of lessening our dependence on natural gas for heating our home. We opted up to 100-percent clean electricity, so our house will be heated and cooled by sustainable, carbon-free, energy.”

“We were also attracted by the idea of having air-conditioning without lacing our walls and ceilings with duct work. I’d always yearned for air-conditioning, but was put off by the cost and need for ducts. The mini splits, although not cheap, seemed a less intrusive way to bring cool air into our living space.”

“The installation team did a great job. They were very capable and went about their work efficiently, cleaned up at the end of the day and were respectful of our living space. We appreciate how quiet the system is compared to conventional cooling systems. I look forward to seeing how well the minisplits do in bringing us heat in the cold months.”

“I definitely recommend this technology, and have done so already to friends.”

March 30, 2019: Town’s HeatSmart kicks off, as 80 warm to energy program

Feb. 6-March 28, 2019: Learning about Earth-friendly home heating, cooling

This news summary was published Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.