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Photos: Heat pumps keep Seward warm, save money

A residential home in Seward, heated by a closed-loop heat pump system. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A residential home in Seward, heated by a closed-loop heat pump system. The area beneath the driveway contains coils that transfer heat from groundwater to a compressor, which converts the heat into a form useful for heating the 3,000sqft home. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
By taking 7 degrees of heat out of groundwater and compressing it, the heat pump can heat the 50 degree water up to 90 degrees. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
The compressor system. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
The Alaska Sealife Center in Seward uses a saltwater heat pump system to heat most of the facility. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
The Alaska Sealife Center in Seward uses a saltwater heat pump system to heat most of the facility. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A heat exchanger at the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Heat-pump destined salt water comes into the Alaska Sealife Center at 45 degrees and returns at 40 degrees. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Two heat pumps provide most of the heat for the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
The heating system at the Alaska Sealife Center uses a glycol loop system. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Another heat exchanger, part of the complicated heating system at the Alaska Sealife Center. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Glycol, heated by heat pumps, in turn heats the air that is circulated throughout the Alaska Sealife Center. A heat pump takes heat from a large source, in this case either the ocean or groundwater, and uses a principle similar to that of a refrigerator to very efficiently convert the heat into a form useful for heating a building. Nov 14, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Suzanna Caldwell

SEWARD -- It's hard to miss the picturesque beauty of Resurrection Bay when you're in this seaside town. Tucked between steep mountains, the bay serves as a gateway to Prince William Sound -- known for its majestic beauty, bountiful fishing and a recreation paradise for residents of Southcentral Alaska.

But Andy Baker sees a little more than that. To him, the bay is more than a playground -- it's an 11-mile long, 1,000-foot deep solar panel capable of providing affordable heat to the small coastal community.

Over the last three years, Baker, an Anchorage-based renewable-energy consultant for his company YourCleanEnergy, has worked with the Alaska SeaLife Center and a handful of other small businesses and homeowners to install heat pumps that convert energy from cold water into building heat.

Read more: Ice cold water proves to be efficient heat source for Alaska SeaLife Center