The City Council of Seward has passed an ordinance that allows it to accept a grant of $725,000 from the Alaska Energy Authority. The grant money will go towards installing a ground source heat pump system modeled after the one in the Alaska SeaLife Center, also in Seward.
The pump will pull heat from seawater in Resurrection Bay for four community buildings: the Seward Community Library, City Hall Annex, City Hall and Fire Hall. It’s been estimated that the system will save the city $25,000 a year.
Heat pumps use temperature differences between the ground or water and outside temperatures to heat or cool buildings, control water temperature, or otherwise provide electricity. The current system in the Alaska SeaLife Center mixes heated seawater with glycol and heats the building, its viewing decks, and surrounding pavement. The pumps use CO2 to avoid synthetic refrigeration.
While requiring a total investment of around $882,000, the Alaska Energy Authority’s grant makes the city of Seward’s $156,000 match a reasonable long-term investment. Savings from the system will pay off in a little over six years: traditional heat pumps last from 25 to 50 years with little maintenance required.
Smaller scale heat pump systems are being considered for personal and commercial use throughout Alaska and the rest of the United States, with installation numbers rising 10% per year. You can learn more about how heat pumps work in general by watching the video embedded below.
Funding opportunities such as AEA’s grant are available throughout this website.