Renewable Heat

Did you know that the Ithaca Youth Bureau, Argos Inn, and Purity Ice Cream heat and cool their buildings with heat pumps? Did you know the Cayuga Nature Center is heated with a wood chip boiler?

Even with unusually low natural gas, oil and propane prices, you can still cut your bills by switching to a renewable heating source, and reduce your carbon emissions and contribute to a stronger local economy?

How do I get Renewable Heat?

Local contractors can answer your questions and provide quotes for installation:

Local Pellet Stove Installers

Air- and Ground-Source Heat pumP Installers

And don’t forget the energy efficiency contractors who can help you weatherize your home and figure out the appropriate appliance to heat your home.

What are my options?

  1. Wood pellets. Pellets are made from sawdust and low-quality trees, and like with wood, can be used to heat a whole house. There are many locally and regionally-produced pellets. NYSERDA is currently offering 40-45% off the installed cost of pellet boilers for commercial systems.

  2. Heat pumps. These include air-source and ground-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal. Heat pumps, like air conditioners or refrigerators, use electricity to move heat from a cool space to a warm space, making the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer.

Air source heat pumps take heat from the outside air (even when it is cold outside).

  • NYSERDA offers a $500 rebate per outdoor unit (to the installer, who may pass on some or all of the rebate to the customer).

  • NYSEG offers a rebate of $25-$100/ton. Learn more about their HVAC rebates here.

Ground-source heat pumps, also known as geothermal, remove heat from underground, and are more efficient than air source heat pumps. NYSERDA offers two tiers of incentives:

  • Small systems—those that use 10 or less tons of cooling capacity—are eligible for rebates of $1,500 per ton of cooling capacity.

  • Large systems—those that use more than 10 tons of cooling capacity—are eligible for rebates of $1,200 per ton of cooling capacity.

Incentives are significantly increased for customers in the Town of Lansing who are affected by the natural gas moratorium.

Heat pumps can be carbon neutral if paired with solar panels, or if you purchase green energy through your energy supplier. Read more about heat pumps here.

Make sure you weatherize your building before deciding on a new heating system. This will help you reduce your heat load, and help you determine the appropriate equipment to keep your home warm all winter long.

Ask questions, get advice, share your thoughts on the local online forum on renewable heating.


Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County has a number of resources related to heating with wood. Contact Guillermo Metz, Energy Team Leader, at, or (607) 272-2292, ext 185.

There are lots of resources on heat pumps on the Heat Smart Tompkins site as well.

Also, check out the online forum for renewable heat.