“These ductless heat pumps have exponentially changed the feel of our classrooms.”

Heat Pumps at Libby School

Each of us can make a difference through our energy choices. Whether it’s programming our thermostats, pressing the “delay” button on our dishwashers and dryers during demand hours, or simply turning off lights we’re not using, every fraction of a kilowatt hour we save helps our Co-op purchase less energy and spend less money. Since our Co-op is member-owned, saving the Co-op money is saving ourselves money.

Larger Co-op members, such as hospitals, manufacturers, and retailers, often work directly with dedicated staff to save significant amounts of energy – and money – for all of us.   

Libby Public Schools recently worked with the Co-op to replace their elementary school’s aging, inefficient cabinet heaters with 46 ductless heat pumps. The Co-op connected the school to the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) Energy Efficiency Rebate Program to incentivize 39 of the ductless heat pumps resulting in a $56,000 rebate. This upgrade will save an estimated 154,618 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year – enough to power about 10 average-use homes.

Heat pump.
Pictured is one of the 46 ductless heat pump units used to replace Libby Elementary school’s inefficient cabinet heaters.

Libby Public Schools Superintendent Ron Goodman gave a recent tour of the school and shared, “Libby Schools received about $3 million in ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, a part of the American Rescue Plan) funds. One of the requirements is to spend the money to prevent a future pandemic. Air circulation is part of that, and it turns out that the filters in ductless heat pumps are a great way to improve air circulation.”   

Mike Stahlberg, lead Co-op staffer on the project, noted, “The ductless heat pumps use about the same amount of electricity required just to run the fans on the old cabinet heaters, to say nothing of the boiler, which was also electrically powered, so this project represents a huge energy efficiency gain.”

Libby Elementary Principal Jeanine Kidwell focused on the kids when asked about the project, reflecting, “The heat pumps have exponentially improved our learning environment because our toasty warm students can now hear our teachers! The cabinet heaters were so loud, and so inefficient, that our students were freezing and unable to fully hear and concentrate on their studies. I wouldn’t have thought that would be the heat pump project takeaway, but from a teaching standpoint, it really is.”

Students studying at Libby School.
Thanks to ductless heat pumps, students can now focus on their studies.

Superintendent Goodman added that newly available air conditioning is particularly helpful in the first six weeks of the school year. Before, teachers understandably wanted to leave doors open, which was a safety risk. Now, thanks to the cooling powers of the ductless heat pumps, they don’t have to. As Kidwell put it, “These ductless heat pumps have exponentially changed the feel of our classrooms.”

Your Co-op is proud to support energy efficiency for Libby Public Schools. Learn more about ways to save energy and money on our Energy Solutions page.

Courtney Stone

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