University of Michigan is offering residents $ 200 to participate in a study on home heating

ANN ARBOR, MI – University of Michigan researchers are offering residents $ 200 to participate in a home energy study that will enable societal transition to electrified heating.

Open to residents of Washtenaw and Wayne counties, the study, which aims to support measures to enable society to make a just and equitable transition to sustainable heating and cooling practices, will run until February 2023.

“I’m starting a study entitled” Heating with Justice “in which we are investigating the social effects of large-scale use of heat pumps,” said Claire McKenna, building scientist and doctoral student at the UM School for Environment and Sustainability.

McKenna, who is part of a research team, called on participants in the study last week at a workshop where the city’s sustainability bureau promoted air source heat pumps as an energy-efficient, all-electric alternative to heating and cooling homes, making the transition from gas stoves and fossil fuels and combating climate change .

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“I’m brand new to Ann Arbor,” McKenna told the crowd. “I come from a career as a civil engineer and have designed fully electric and sustainable buildings.”

One of the biggest concerns about electrification is that heating and cooling costs will overall rise as utilities respond to the higher electrical loads, and the study will address this issue, McKenna said.

Residents who sign up can get a free home energy audit and $ 200 when they’re ready to have a smart thermostat installed to monitor their home temperatures, McKenna said.

“Every winter – to save money, energy, or both – a large proportion of families in the US keep their homes below 64 ° F, which is considered healthy,” says the research proposal. “As home heating moves towards full electrification and utilities demand pricing plans from customers to reduce peak demand, low-income customers could face a particularly heavy trade-off between cost and convenience.”

The study aims to test the hypothesis that dynamic pricing, when applied to electrified heating, affects vulnerable households differently than other households.

“Without targeted efforts to reduce the burden on the poor, the widespread decarbonization of heating in households is likely to hurt low-income customers,” say the researchers, showing a desire to develop interventions to avoid this finding.

The study includes two home visits with a payment of $ 100 for each visit, and participants receive information about their electricity and gas usage, as well as tailored suggestions on how to reduce their electricity and gas bills.

During the first home visit, researchers collect information about the properties of the house that most affect energy use, including size, age, insulation, heating and cooling devices, and energy use.

On the second visit, they’ll ask about heating and cooling preferences, including what temperatures are considered comfortable and how the bills can be cut.

“This information will help create guidelines that will enable us to move to sustainable heating and cooling in a just and equitable manner,” states the registration form.

The research team received a $ 300,000 research grant from the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute’s Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program.

Other members of the team are assistant professors Parth Vaishnav, Tony Reames and Carina Gronlund.

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