Media Release: Heat Clean Campaign will promote air source heat pumps, save Vermonters $2 million

With cutting-edge technology that takes energy out of the air and turns it into usable heat, you can heat your home at a fraction of the cost you’re paying for expensive fossil fuels today.

MONTPELIER, VT—Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) and Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC) formally launched their “Heat Clean” campaign today, shining a spotlight on the untapped potential for widespread adoption of air source heat pumps.

The groups’ partnership with installers and town energy committees aims to spur 100 new installations of heat pumps in Chittenden and Addison Counties before heating season starts. Through a series of forums, workshops and tours the goal is to share information about this exciting technology. Organizers estimate that 100 installs alone will save Vermont families roughly $2 million, based on a typical savings of 40-50% per home.

“The overwhelming response we’ve heard from Vermonters is ‘I hate paying through the nose for dirty, expensive fossil fuels for heating,’” said Ben Walsh, VPIRG’s Clean Energy advocate. “Air source heat pumps are a fantastic clean technology that’s giving Vermonters a chance to finally take control of their fuel bills and heat their homes at fraction of the cost and climate impact of propane, oil or fracked gas. It’s one of the reasons VPIRG is opposed to the construction of the proposed fracked gas pipeline – there are better, cleaner alternatives available today.”

Just like the coils on the back of your fridge, an “air source heat pump” works by transferring energy in the air outside into heat for your home. Operating even when temperatures dip to -10 or -15, heat pumps are 3-4 times more efficient than burning fossil fuels—meaning you’re saving money and keeping your home comfortable uses significantly less energy.

“At a time when climate change is threatening our way of life here in Vermont, getting off fossil fuels is not only a moral issue, but it’s also plain commonsense,” said Johanna Miller, Energy Program Director at VNRC. “Vermonters around the state are already slashing their home’s pollution footprint by making their homes more efficient, saving them money and insulating themselves from the volatility of finite fossil fuels. Many are also pairing heat pumps with a clean, renewable source of electricity — like rooftop solar — and doing even more for their pocketbooks and the planet.”

What’s holding back widespread adoption of this game-changing technology? “I keep having to tell people, ‘No, it’s not magic,” said Betsy Hardy of the Richmond Climate Action Committee which is a partner on the campaign. “It’s a technology that people just haven’t heard about yet. But through our work in the Heat Clean campaign, we’re working to change that.”

“Air source heat pumps make Vermont Gas’ plan to build massive new fossil fuel infrastructure even more unjustifiable,” added Rebecca Foster, a member of the Charlotte Town Energy Committee. “Why in the world would we force Vermonters to pay for getting locked into the obsolete technology of a fracked gas pipeline when the clean energy future is here already? All we need to do is seize that future, now.”

ACORN Renewable Energy Co-Op President, Greg Pahl:
“For many years, conventional wisdom in the heat pump sector said that air source heat pumps did not work well in cold northern climates. But recent developments in cold climate heat pump (CCHP) technology have turned that assumption on its head. There has been a lot of interest in CCHPs in Addison County and we’re excited to be part of the Heat Clean initiative.”

Building Energy co-founder, Nik Ponzio:
“Building Energy is proud to be part of the Heat Clean campaign. With the addition of cold climate heat pumps to our list of services, we now have a technology that can eliminate heating bills AND your carbon footprint. Coupled with high performance insulation and solar PV, heat pumps can provide 100% of space heating needs without combustion.”

Energy Co-op of Vermont General Manager, John Quinney:
“The Heat Clean campaign is designed to inform Vermonters about the new cold-climate heat pumps, technology that can cut heating oil and propane use by up to 80% and slash carbon emissions. The Energy Co-op of Vermont is excited to be part of Heat Clean and we look forward to installing dozens of cold-climate heat pumps over the next few months.”

Reiss Building & Renovation, Chuck Reiss:
“Vermont is undergoing an energy revolution that few Vermonters are aware of. That revolution is use of air source heat pumps to heat our homes. Heat pumps combined with solar PV will be how we transition to a sustainable energy future, and that transition has already begun.”

SunCommon co-founder, Duane Peterson:
“Last year Vermonters spent $800 million on heating – with solar heat (the combination of solar and heat pumps) Vermonters can heat their homes at 1/3rd the cost of oil or propane. Heat pumps are a smart, clean, and safe way to do this and SunCommon is proud to be offering them together.”

Click here to view the Heat Clean campaign’s fact sheet.

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