A game-changing technology in an oil-reliant state: Curiosity sparked savings

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  • Maine is using heat pumps as a clean energy alternative to traditional heating fuels.
  • High prices for heating oil and gas have motivated homeowners to seek more affordable options.
  • Heat pumps are more cost-effective and offer air conditioning in the summer.
  • The state hopes to use 80% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Residents have already installed 100,000 heat pumps, surpassing the original goal.

One of the smallest states in the United States, Maine, is embracing a clean energy solution by using heat pumps for home heating. The state has seen increased demand for heat pumps after record prices for heating fuels. Homeowners are turning to these pumps as an affordable alternative for heating their homes. Heat pumps provide cost savings and also offer air conditioning during the summer months. Maine aims to achieve 80% renewable energy usage by 2030, and the high prices of dirty-energy oils and gases due to the war in Ukraine has further encouraged the switch to heat pumps.

Efficiency Maine, a program that promotes clean energy and energy efficiency, has witnessed a surge in website visits and inquiries from consumers seeking information on heat pump rebates and finding contractors. Previously, consumers were curious about switching to propane or natural gas, burning firewood, or using pellets, but heat pumps have become more popular due to their lower operating costs and ability to provide air conditioning.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Residential Cold Climate Heat Pump Technology Challenge has also played a role in boosting the adoption of heat pumps in Maine. Despite supply chain issues and the drop in prices for traditional fuels, residents have purchased 4,000 more heat pumps in early November compared to the total number bought in 2022. Even with higher electricity rates, heat pumps remain a more affordable option than oil or gas heating systems. As a result, the percentage of Mainers using heating oil has decreased from over 60% to 56% over the past decade, while the use of electric heat has risen from 6% to almost 11%.

Maine has already achieved its goal of installing 100,000 heat pumps by 2025, a year and a half ahead of schedule. Governor Janet Mills has set a new target of 175,000 heat pumps by 2027. The Governor’s Energy Office stated that between 2018 and 2022, there was a 10% decrease in heating oil as a primary fuel for home heating, with an increase in households using electricity. This coincides with the widespread adoption of high-efficiency air source heat pumps in Maine.

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