Thu, Aug 15, 2013 10:04 PM
Program expanded due to high interest, but now closed to
RUTLAND - Due to an extraordinary customer response, Green
Mountain Power is expanding plans for what is believed to be the
first utility-sponsored heat pump rental program in the country,
but has closed the pilot to new customers effective Aug. 6.
"The pilot clearly tapped into something, because the response has
been flabbergasting," said Steve Costello, GMP's vice president for
generation and energy innovation. "We had hoped to get 200
customers to participate in the pilot, and thought it might take a
few months to develop that much interest. More than 500 customers
have expressed interest in just a few days, dramatically exceeding
"As a result, with support from the Department of Public Service,
we have expanded the pilot to include all customers who have
responded to this point, but we are closing the pilot to additional
customers for now," Costello said. "We hope to be able to
expand the pilot to a larger program after we have more experience
with heat pumps and customers' experiences with them."
The pilot effort, centered in Rutland, is intended to save
customers money and demonstrate the comfort air-source heat pumps
can provide in a cold-weather climate.
The rental program includes installation of air-source heat pumps
in homes and businesses with no up-front costs for the customer,
and is expected to save participants hundreds of gallons of heating
fuel and thousands of dollars each year.
Employees in GMP's Energy Innovation Center contacted all
customers who voiced interest in time to take part. Once a
customer decides to go ahead, a contractor will be scheduled to do
"We have been amazed by the customer interest," Costello said.
"Customers we've spoken with are focused on reducing their reliance
on foreign oil, cutting their carbon emissions and reducing high
heating bills. We believe air-source heat pumps can do all that,
while improving customer comfort year round."
Cold climate heat pumps, also known as mini-split heat pumps, are
ductless heating systems that also provide air conditioning during
hot weather. Installed in less than a day, a heat pump
includes an outdoor unit that works as a heat exchanger, like the
compressor in a refrigerator, and is connected with copper tubing
to a small interior unit.
In cold weather, gas within the copper tubing extracts heat from
outdoor air down to temperatures of about 13 below zero, and the
warmth is brought inside. In hot weather, the process reverses to
cool the building. GMP plans to heat its Energy Innovation Center
largely with air-source heat pumps.
Under the pilot program, GMP will pay to install heat pumps in
customers' homes and small businesses, and rent them to the
property owners for about $45 to $50 per month.
Through a heat pump summit last fall and a program with Efficiency
Vermont and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont to package
weatherization with heat pump incentives, GMP has developed
relationships with numerous installers in the HVAC, plumbing and
home performance industries. Six models are available through
two manufacturers, Mitsubishi and Daikin.