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People emPOWERing Princeton: Heidi’s Home

Heidi's Home

Welcome to Heidi’s Home! Heidi is a long-time Princeton resident and a LEED-accredited architect with a passion for her profession. Back in 1999, she met others doing a pilot program in green architecture, and the minute she heard about it, she had a lightning bolt moment. She has always been a person who loves the outdoors and has a connection with nature, so when she heard about this program, she knew it would be her perfect fit. Along with being an architect, Heidi was a member of the Princeton Environmental Commission and a board member of Sustainable Princeton. She was also a key member of the Energy Working Group that developed Princeton’s Climate Action Plan. In her personal life, Heidi has slowly been working to electrify her whole house with the help of rebates and incentives.


Air Source Heat Pump

One of the rebates and incentives she spoke about being “ridiculously good” was for the Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs). She wanted a new system because putting in the window air conditioners every season was way too much work, and she wanted a more efficient system. She worked with Artic Air to install it as she had seen their work at other houses. Arctic Air first added insulation and air sealing before installing the heat pump to get as close to R-60 and as energy-efficient as possible.
They also helped her with all of the rebates and incentives. For all of the work, it cost her $17,000, but right off the top, there was a $4,000 rebate. 

The remaining $13,000 could be paid in two ways: a very low-interest rate loan or an upfront $3,000 and a $10,000 loan with zero interest. She chose the second option and paid $119 a month, zero interest, for seven years. So upfront, all of her upgrades cost $3,000. She loves the new system as she can heat and cool the house room by room; she spoke on this saying, “Instead of having to heat the whole house to a much higher temperature, we can zone it depending on where we are.”

Used Electric Vehicle

When they first began looking into getting a used Electric Vehicle (EV) the market was very small so they ended up waiting until last year as the used EV market has grown tremendously. Before looking at the used EV cars that were available, Heidi and her husband wanted to decide which vehicles would work for them. Their top priorities were a long-range, ample trunk space, and price. They were also interested in the Bolt, but the trunk space was not large enough to fit her husband’s wheelchair. The two EVs they settled on were the Ioniq 5 and the Kia Niro. They searched for used EVs online and kept in mind that they did not want to have to travel too far to pick it up. A Kia car dealership in Jersey City had a Kia Niro available with only 200 miles, but the price was not quite where Heidi wanted. After some negotiation and the dealership agreeing to throw in an accessible roof rack, they had a deal! Unfortunately, she did not receive any incentives for her used EV.

EVCharging 1

Heidi has been seeing so many benefits to owning an EV. She finds she is spending half as much on fuel, and when she went for a maintenance check, she only had to pay $42! She and her husband have already traveled far with it on a trip to Vermont. They noticed that finding chargers was not hard, but finding an open slot sometimes was difficult as they had to wait. She hopes to see more improvements in the charging infrastructure as the number of EVs on the road increases. When asked what tip she would share with people looking to buy a used EV, she suggested, “Do your research. Know what few types of cars you are interested in. Another tip: the best time to buy a car is at the end of the month and towards the end of the year because they are trying to make their monthly and annual quota”. Heidi also pointed to Sustainable Princeton’s eCommuter Fest as a great place to start because she could talk to current EV owners and test drive a variety of vehicles all in one place.


Electrical Panel

Once they purchased an EV, Heidi wanted to install an EV charger. She saw this as an opportunity to also upgrade her electrical panel as she did not have any open circuits. She could have put in a subpanel but thought putting in a 200 amp panel was smarter since she would have plenty of room to add future upgrades like an electric clothes dryer, induction cooktop, and a heat pump hot water heater. She noted, “I was setting myself up with the infrastructure to be able to electrify my whole house.” She hoped that even if she was not able to finish all the upgrades to the house, the next homeowner would be set up to do them.

Electric Vehicle Charger

By getting her EV charger at the same time as her electrical panel upgrade she was able to qualify for more incentives. She spoke about how the electrical panel and EV charger were originally $3,000, but after sending in paperwork to PSE&G for incentives and rebates, she paid half of that. She shared that it was not difficult to do and that she was able just to do it all online. To find out about these incentives she went on NJ CEP to see which incentives were out there before getting started. Rewiring America has made this even easier and has created a personal home electrification planner. Enter the information for your house to get your own plan!


Are you interested in sustainably upgrading your home?

Attend our Sustainable Home Expo at the Suzanne Patterson in Princeton on Saturday, March 9th. You will be able to:

  • Talk directly with contractors, solar installers, and sustainable landscapers and more!
  • Speak with homeowners who have made upgrades
  • Learn more information in our educational sessions:
    • Community Solar
    • Electrifying Your Home
    • Sustainable landscape
    • Live Induction Cooktop Demo

Are you or someone you know emPOWERing Princeton?

We are looking for a renter to be featured next in the People emPOWERing Princeton series. This renter may make sustainable energy choices such as:

  • Subscribed to community solar
  • Uses an induction cooktop
  • Has had an energy efficiency assessment
  • Uses smart power strips, bulbs, or thermostat

Please email for more information or to nominate yourself or someone you know!