Warm Springs Avenue: Unifying Charm and Renewable Energy


Photo by: Ally Metzler

A colonial house on Warm Springs holding historic qualities that do not go unnoticed, and unloved.

By: Ally Metzler, Lead Photographer/Social Media Manager/Staff Reporter

Warm Springs Avenue has been a part of Boise since 1870. Named after the Kelly Hot Springs that the original street’s dirt road led to, the avenue has been an integral part of Boise’s history and continues to make an impact today. The Avenue displays a variety of some of our city’s grandest homes. Sprawling Queen Anne’s, astounding Tudor’s, and striking bungalows are only some of the houses that bring this street to life. One person who can attest to Warm Springs’s idyllic nature is Heide Kemp, a Warm Springs resident. Kemp and her family have lived in their Warm Springs home for 4 years, and have transformed it into a breathtaking estate. While sitting down with Mrs. Kemp, she had nothing but good things to say about what the avenue has brought to her and her family. Kemp says, “It really feels like just this little piece of hidden treasure for kids to have their childhood.” This is only one of the ways Warm Springs Avenue has brought boundless joy to the Kemp family. To follow up, I asked Kemp about what her favorite pieces of this slice of heaven are, and she answered with, “The charm of the old homes and the well-established trees.” This answer is undeniable once you walk down the avenue and lose your breath to the houses that stand before you. 

Yet, charm is not all that this avenue has to offer. Since the 1890’s, a majority of the Warm Springs’ homes have been powered by geothermal energy. From the beginning of this energy source, Boise has been home to the largest geothermal energy system in the country. Geothermal energy heats a number of downtown buildings, the Treasure Valley YMCA’s pool, Boise State University buildings, and numerous homes that line the Avenue. This energy source takes 177 degree naturally heated water from beneath our foothills and circulates it through aquifers which pump the water underneath our city. Once it reaches the surface, it can then be used to radiantly heat homes and water. Free from the usage of fossil fuels and carbon emissions, all geothermal water that has been used then circulates through the system again and again, creating a uniquely clean and renewable energy source. Assuredly, geothermal energy benefits the environment, but also benefits the people who use it. 

Heide Kemp, resident of a geothermal heated home on Warm Springs Avenue, says, “Once we purchased the house, and learned a little bit more about the geothermal, it would be really hard for us to relocate to a different house that didn’t have geothermal. That’s how much we love it.” The Kemp family uses geothermal energy to heat their home and water, along with their outdoor shower and pool. With this energy source, Kemp says, “It is so nice to have the geothermal and not worrying about, oh, am I going to run out of hot water?” Kemp says, “It is the best perk to living in this area.” So why don’t more areas of Boise use geothermal heat? The simple answer correlates with water temperature. As heated water moves farther away from its source, the water cools down, making it unable to efficiently heat homes that are too far from the geothermal heating system. Even so, people dedicated to keeping Boise’s energy clean are finding additional ways to contribute to the fight for clean energy. The Idaho Statesman article, Boise’s geothermal energy system has room for growth, introduced Steve Hubble, a Climate Action Manager for the city of Boise. Hubble says, “…for residents living outside the geothermal area, the city is working on providing “clean electricity,” which can come from solar and wind instead of fossil fuels.” This effort to find new, clean ways to generate energy will help in the fight to ditch negative energy sources in Boise. It’s important to recognize that Warm Springs is aiding this battle against negative energy sources. The avenue finds ways to incorporate geothermal energy into its already charming homes. 

The clean energy source of Warm Springs’ homes is only one of the ways to appreciate the beauty that the Avenue holds. The beauty can also be seen as you travel up and down the tree-lined sidewalks and nearly transport into a world that is unlike the one we live in today. A frequent visitor of Warm Springs Avenue, Mimi Hanson, says, “Warm Springs makes me feel like I’m in a Hallmark movie.” On the same note, Kemp describes the street by saying, “It feels a lot like Sandlot.” Yet, these responses do not seem far-fetched when you take into account the towering trees, falling leaves, and white picket fences that surround Warm Springs Avenue. 

The beauty of Warm Springs Avenue cannot only be felt through words, and even photos may not be able to say a thousand words in this case. The only way to appreciate all that Warm Springs offers is to travel up and down the Avenue that will continue to make Boise proud.