Friday August 2, 2013

RUTLAND (AP) -- Vermont’s largest electric utility is kicking off a program to help customers heat their homes in the winter and cool them in the summer with special heat pumps.

Green Mountain Power’s pilot program -- believed to be the first of its kind in the country -- is designed to save customers money and show the systems can work in a cold-weather climate.

"We believe air-source heat pumps can dramatically change the way Vermonters heat their homes, and reduce economic costs and environmental impacts of burning foreign oil," said GMP President Mary Powel.

The cold-climate heat pumps are ductless heating systems that also provide air conditioning during hot weather. In cold weather, the system extracts heat from outdoor air down to temperatures of about 13 below zero, and the warmth is brought inside. In hot weather, the process is reversed, cooling the building.

GMP will pay to install heat pumps in up to 200 customers’ homes and small businesses, and then rent them for $45 to $50 per month. The focus of the program will be in the Rutland area, but other customers may also participate.