Kotzebue home energy audits help kick off study to reduce heating fuel costs

September 19, 2023

A Kotzebue home
Photo by Mark Houston
A Kotzebue home received a home energy audit as part of ACEP’s Home Heating Field Study.

Sixteen homeowners in Kotzebue participated in ACEP’s Home Heating Field Study and each recently received a professional home energy audit to help establish their baseline energy use. This is a critical early step in a years-long project to help address high space-heating costs in rural Alaska.

Due to energy inefficiency, many remote communities across the Arctic rely on expensive, imported fuel oil for both electricity generation and space heating, leading to a high energy cost burden for households. In an effort to reduce dependence on fuel oil, some communities in Alaska have integrated renewable energy resources into their electrical microgrids.

This study will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of electric thermal storage heaters, which use “excess” wind for space heating, as well as energy efficiency improvements to displace expensive heating oil.

A blower door
Photo by Mark Masteller/ACEP
Sixteen homes in Kotzebue recently received home energy audits, including blower door tests, as part of ACEP's Home Heating Study.

ACEP’s 2023 summer intern Rachel Curtis, who developed curriculum to help teach high school students about energy audits, shadowed and assisted contractor Mark Houston as he conducted the audits.

Key partners in this project include Kotzebue Electric Association and the Northwest Arctic Borough. The work is funded by the National Science Foundation Navigating the New Arctic program (Award # 2220615).