New Heating Research Project Could See Big Savings for Rural Residents

New Heating Research Project Could See Big Savings for Rural Residents

Not much has changed in residential home heating over the last 14 years in remote Alaska. Imported heating fuel still accounts for around 80% of home heat, but a new research program could change that figure and save a lot of money for households in communities like Kotzebue and beyond.

ACEP researchers Dominique Pride, Steve Colt, Jeremy VanderMeer, Mark Masteller and Alana Vilagi traveled last month to Kotzebue to introduce a new project that aims to reduce fuel oil use in Arctic communities. The effort is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Navigating the New Arctic program (award # 2220615).

The ACEP team led a community meeting at UAF’s Chukchi Campus on Oct. 27, 2022, providing information about the project to interested community members. While in Kotzebue, the researchers also met with representatives from the Kotzebue Electric Association, the Native Village of Kotzebue and the Northwest Arctic Borough School District to discuss various aspects of the project.

The NNA awards support research projects to study the Arctic’s changing natural, developed and social environments. The work will lead to an improved understanding of the local and global effects of Arctic change, informing U.S. national security and economic development needs.

The ACEP team led by Pride was awarded $3 million earlier this year to conduct residential energy efficiency improvement studies and to look at using renewably generated electricity for space heating. Kotzebue, one of the communities in the study, has over 2.5 megawatts of installed renewable energy, including wind and solar. When more renewably generated electricity than the community needs is available, it can be sold at a discounted rate and used by consumers to charge electric thermal storage heaters. Reducing the reliance on fuel oil for electricity generation and space heating will lead to cost savings and reduced emissions.

For more information on this project, please contact Dominique Pride at


ACEP research engineer Baxter Bond looks inside an electric thermal storage heater. Photo by Jeff Fisher.