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Local Nonprofit Launches Energy-Efficient Home Heating Program

HeatSmart Tompkins Goes Public With Press Release, Installer Partners for Much Anticipated Program. Press release courtesy of Matthew Johnston with HeatSmart Tompkins.

Media Contact:

Matthew Johnston, Program Director | HeatSmart Tompkins| [email protected] | 617-680-2646

Public information meetings for HeatSmart Tompkins start Tuesday, September 15

Last year, the Switch to Solar initiative gave Tompkins County residents a simple way to connect with solar panel installers. The result was more than 400 new photovoltaic systems, more than doubling the number in the county.

This year, Solar Tompkins, the volunteer-led nonprofit that created the program, is turning its attention to an even bigger energy challenge.

“On average, 75 percent of the energy use by homes in Tompkins County goes towards heating, cooling, and domestic hot water,” said Jonathan Comstock, chair of the Solar Tompkins board of directors. “Most of that comes from burning fossil fuels. Happily, the technology is now available to let homeowners increase their comfort, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and save money.”

Solar Tompkins’ new HeatSmart Tompkins program is designed to make it easier for county residents to weatherproof their homes and switch to highly efficient heat pump systems by offering them lower-than-market rate pricing and a streamlined process with selected companies, Comstock said.

Heat pumps draw heat from the ground or the outside air and transfer it to the interior of the home. They run on electricity and can be used for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Both ground-source and air-source heat pumps are effective at the low temperatures typical of this region.

“This is an exciting initiative,” said Matt Johnston, HeatSmart Tompkins’ program director. “Home insulation and heat pump services can’t come to Tompkins County soon enough, especially with winter approaching.”

Solar Tompkins recently selected three companies – Halco, NP Environmental, and Zerodraft – as its partners in the HeatSmart program. “These are fantastic businesses that offer top-notch services,” Johnston said. “They’re ready to handle the surge of activity we anticipate as residents learn more about this opportunity.”

The program launches on Tuesday, September 15, with an open meeting at the Enfield Grange Hall from 7 to 9 pm. It’s the first of a series of public information sessions in each town in the county running through the end of October. At the meetings, residents will have a chance to learn about the program, meet the installers, and sign up for a free home energy assessment.

Additional meetings are scheduled for September 16 from 7 to 9 pm at the Danby Town Hall, September 17 from 7 to 9 pm at the Brooktondale Community Center, and September 19 from 10 am to 12 noon at the Lehman Alternative Community School in Ithaca.

A full meeting schedule, as well as dates and times for tours of local homes with heat pump systems, is available at

Towards a Carbon-Free Home

Because heat pumps can be powered by renewably generated electricity, they “open the pathway to a zero-carbon home,” said Melissa Kemp, who headed last year’s Switch to Solar campaign. “Enrolling in HeatSmart Tompkins is a great next step for people looking for ways to shrink their carbon footprints. For many families, it will also make immediate economic sense.”

Katie Borgella, deputy commissioner of planning for Tompkins County, said HeatSmart Tompkins complements the County’s long-term greenhouse emissions goals. “We hope the program will inspire individuals to take action to help our community create a more sustainable energy system,” she added.

HeatSmart Tompkins is a program of Solar Tompkins, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing a renewable energy future while providing comfort, economic security, and ecological stability. More information about the HeatSmart program, including pricing, enrollment details, and the schedule of public meetings and tours, can be found at 

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