In an effort to help customers save energy and reduce bills, we at Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service Company are providing our customers with an energy solution. Last week the Maine Public Utilities Commission gave the go-ahead for the utilities to begin offering a Heat Pump Pilot Program to 500 customers in each utility’s service territory.
The news couldn’t have come at a better time, as Mainers heading into another winter heating season are concerned about the cost of heating their homes. Recently, hundreds of customers attended informational energy expos held by the utilities in Bangor and Presque Isle, eagerly seeking solutions to their high heating costs. We believe this pilot program will prove heat pumps can provide a long-term solution to these concerns by potentially reducing heating bills in most cases to less than half of what it costs for oil.
The Heat Pump Pilot Program will provide rebates of $600 for the purchase and installation of minisplit, air-source heat pumps for the first 330 customers who apply and are approved. Utility financing will be available to eligible customers in good standing. Additionally, residential and small commercial customers who heat with heat pumps may qualify for a lower electric heat delivery rate for all electricity used for heat during the heating season. Both residential and commercial customers can apply for the rebate and financing.
Utility financing offers customers the convenience of paying one bill for their heat pump loan and their electricity. The Heat Pump Pilot Program offers competitive rates, a five-year loan term, no application fee or closing costs, and no prepayment penalty.
At today’s prices, heating indoor air with an efficient minisplit heat pump can be accomplished at 40 percent of the cost of heating it with oil. In most applications, customers can cut their heating costs by about half. Heat pump technology isn’t new, but newer units are rated to perform much better in cold climates. New, energy-efficient units can be a very cost-effective, supplemental heat source, providing as much as 80 to 90 percent of the necessary heat over the winter months.
Heat pumps use refrigeration technology and electricity to move heat efficiently from one space to another. Even cold air contains heat, so during the winter months, refrigerant is able to absorb that heat and move it from the outside of your house to the inside. During the summer months, heat is moved from inside to the outside. Both operations are done at high levels of efficiency.
Bangor Hydro and Maine Public Service promote the efficient use of electricity. We see minisplit heat pumps as a great opportunity for our customers to manage their energy use and save money. The program is expected to be formally rolled out to customers within the next week. Details will be available at bangorhydro.com or mainepublicservice.com.
Gerry Chasse is the president and chief operating officer of Bangor Hydro Electric Company and Maine Public Service.