Heat Monitoring Devices Will Give Insight to Heat Pump Efficiencies in Kotzebue

Heat Monitoring Devices Will Give Insight to Heat Pump Efficiencies in Kotzebue

Fuel meters deployed in nine Kotzebue homes were retrieved by ACEP researchers for data analysis.

ACEP researchers Alana Vilagi and Baxter Bond, along with energy audit contractor Mark Houston, traveled to Kotzebue to retrieve the pump monitoring apparatuses (PuMAs). The meters were deployed in homes where vented oil heaters, such as Toyotomi and Monitor appliances, provided the only source of warmth. The devices were installed in November 2019 and collected data until their retrieval in August 2021.

After collecting baseline heating fuel consumption data for one year, ACEP had the opportunity to partner with the Northwest Arctic Borough and the Kotzebue Electric Association to determine how air source heat pumps affect heating oil and electricity consumption in Arctic homes. An ASHP extracts heat from the outdoor air.

Four of the nine homes in the study were randomly selected to receive a Mitsubishi wall-mounted mini split air source heat pump, funded by the Northwest Arctic Borough, in July 2020. The homes that did not receive ASHPs served as a control group. All study participants agreed to share their heating and electricity data with ACEP, the NWAB and KEA for the duration of the study.

The electricity used by the ASHP was metered separately from the rest of the home. Participants were asked to turn their heat pumps off in November when the temperature routinely fell below the temperature range for the ASHP’s efficient operation. Study participants were asked to turn their heat pumps back on in April when the temperature increased.

The development, testing and deployment of the PuMAs was made possible with funding support through the Office of Naval Research's Alaska Hub for Energy Innovation and Deployment (# N00014-17-SB001) and with the National Science Foundation project Collaborative Research: Using Field Experiments to Understand Household Barriers to Energy Efficiency in Alaska (#1522836).

ACEP would like to thank our project partners: the Northwest Arctic Borough, which provided funding for the ASHPs and their installation, and the Kotzebue Electric Association, which provided the electric meters for the heat pumps. We would also like to thank Ingemar Mathiasson and Matt Bergan for their assistance with the project.

For more information on this project, please contact Dominique Pride at djpride@alaska.edu.


Baxter Bond prepares to uninstall a pump metering apparatus. Photo courtesy of Baxter Bond.