Mary Alyce Kobler (left), Leigh Miller (middle) and Lisa Marshall (right) pose for a photo will canvasing the Lansing neighborhoods in 2019.

Program Director of HeatSmart Tompkins, Lisa Marshall, recently received a $200,000 grant from New York State Energy and Development Authority (NYSERDA). 

HeatSmart Tompkins’ plans to reduce the carbon footprint of New York state are secured thanks to the grant, which will allow them to continue their work for two more years. Ninety percent of homes in New York are fueled with fossil fuels, but Marshall wants more people to have heat pumps.

“It’s just a great opportunity to be able to continue to move the work forward for two more years, so we are really happy,” Marshall said. “If people don’t know about heat pumps then they don’t know the cost savings, the comfort and the climate benefits of heat pumps.”

HeatSmart Tompkins has already begun reaching out to people who are engaged in climate solutions and climate change. With this two-year grant, Marshall said she would like to venture into the air conditioning market. With summers getting hotter and hotter each year, she said many people in the region have begun to invest in air conditioning. 

“The climate crisis, in a way, is helping us here because nobody used to need air conditioning in this area.... The best and cheapest air conditioning are heat pumps and people are putting them in just for air conditioning.”   

Marshall’s goal is for more people who use heat pumps for their air conditioning to invest a little extra money and use these pumps for their source of heat as well. She said that she’s hoping to even be able to educate people who don’t believe in climate change in the process, and set them on a path toward curbing their individual carbon footprint.

“[People] could save so much money if they replace that propane boiler or furnace with a heat pump.” But two obstacles still remain: recognition and understanding. Marshall said word of mouth is a key in communicating the importance of heat pumps.  

“We need to get better at reaching out to different civic organizations, community leaders and all different demographics in Tompkins and Chemung County…” Marshall said. 

According to Marshall, the state grant has allowed the company to expand, which has allowed HeatSmart to begin working in Chemung County.. With the grant, the focus is to improve Tompkins and Chemung County first and foremost, with special emphasis on Lansing. Marshall sees no need to expand further because NYSERDA covers more counties in New York. “We are very happy to see that NYSERDA has now funded some other clean heating and cooling communities,” Marshall said. 

“My dream is that HeatSmart won’t exist 10 years from now because we’ll have been so successful in our mission that we don’t need to,” Marshall said. “We’ve been the innovator for HeatSmart and all of New York and, actually, all of the country. People have been looking to us for our creative ideas and we want to continue to be the innovative leaders and forge a path to make this work easier and more satisfying for everybody.”


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