Higher state heat pump rebates to potentially benefit Aroostook homeowners
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A new state initiative regarding rebates for heat pump purchases will benefit numerous people in Aroostook County looking to reduce home heating costs, according to officials from Aroostook County Action Program.
On Jan. 1, Efficiency Maine, an independent administrator for programs aimed at reducing energy costs and greenhouse gases, rolled out increases in its rebates for heat pump purchases to align with Gov. Janet Mills’ 100,000 heat pump initiative that was signed into law in June 2019.
Efficiency Maine increased rebates for Tier 2 heat pumps from $500 to $1,000 for the first indoor installation and from $250 to $500 for a second installation.
Efficiency Maine also announced that rebates for Tier 1 heat pumps are $500 for the first indoor installation and $250 for an indoor or outdoor unit.
In addition, homeowners might also qualify for $2,000 rebates if they receive assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
At Aroostook County Action Program’s main office in Presque Isle, Randy Rattray, program coordinator of the organization’s housing services, has seen many people benefit from free heat pump installations as part of the assistance program.
“We’ve installed 40 heat pumps this winter and we now have 250 people on the waiting list,” Rattray said.
Recently, the program’s income qualifications expanded due to increased funding from the Maine State Housing Authority. While the program approved 4,496 households eligible for heating assistance funds during the 2018-2019 winter season, this season workers have met with more than 5,000 individuals to determine eligibility and expect to serve thousands more even during the early spring and summer months.
Aroostook County Action Program has extended its application period for the Home Energy Assistance Program through mid-July to allow people to receive benefits at the start of fall or winter 2020.
Rattray noted that its version of the assistance program and the Efficiency Maine rebates are part of different programs, but both are aimed at low-income residents. Individuals who already receive assistance from Aroostook County Action Program are not qualified for Efficiency Maine’s rebates, though the latter program can greatly help people whose incomes fall just above the energy assistance program threshold.
“The benefit for folks who qualify for Efficiency Maine is that they could get a heat pump sooner,” Rattray said, referring to the wait lists that often accompany programs like the Home Energy Assistance Program.
According to Efficiency Maine’s website, more than 45,000 heat pumps have been installed in homes across the state over the past five years. To qualify for the Efficiency Maine rebates, individuals must own their homes and not have a heat pump currently installed.
Rattray recommended that homeowners consider their financial budget before choosing a heat pump and installer. The average cost in Aroostook County for an installation alone, he said, is around $2,800. He stressed the importance of obtaining multiple quotes from contractors and, if possible, waiting until the later months of the winter.
“Many heating oil vendors are dealing with emergency situations first during this part of the winter,” Rattray said.
He said that people who want information about heating assistance options should call Aroostook County Action Program at 207-764-3721 or visit Efficiency Maine’s website.