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Maine gets $10M to install specially-designed heat pumps inside mobile homes

Rep. Chellie Pingree, of Maine's first congressional district, and Gov. Janet Mills announce a $10 million federal energy grant at F.W. Webb, a plumbing and heating wholesaler distributor, in South Portland on Feb. 27, 2024.
Nicole Ogrysko
/
Maine Public
Rep. Chellie Pingree, of Maine's first congressional district, and Gov. Janet Mills announce a $10 million federal energy grant at F.W. Webb, a plumbing and heating wholesale distributor, in South Portland on Feb. 27, 2024.

Maine will receive a $10 million federal grant from the U.S. Energy Department to install specially-designed heat pumps in mobile and manufactured homes.

The funds will accelerate a Maine pilot program that has installed and tested whole-home heat pumps inside more than 60 mobile homes so far.

"This pilot project was designed to get everyone familiar with this new technology and with the process of installing them," Michael Stoddard, executive director of Efficiency Maine, said Tuesday at a press conference in South Portland. "That's what these pilot projects accomplish. Your funding from DOE is going to enable us to multiply that times ten."

The latest grant is expected to pay for heat pump installations in 675 mobile homes.

The units differ slightly from traditional heat pumps because they fit into the mobile home's existing utility space that was previously occupied by the furnace and pump warm air through the duct work under the floor.

Stoddard said the devices appear to be working well, and state officials estimate that the heat pumps save homeowners at least 600-to-900 gallons of heating oil or propane, respectively, each year.

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine's first congressional district acknowledged that switching from oil and natural gas can be a tough sell for some Mainers.

"You can hate this conversation to the end, but it's going to save you a lot of money," she said Tuesday. "This is going to save the people in these homes a lot of money, and they're going to have the assistance to do it."

Efficiency Maine will launch a campaign to reach eligible low-income mobile homeowners living in towns with fewer than 10,000 people. Stoddard said the program will cover the installation costs up front, and then homeowners pay anywhere from $2,000-to-$2,500 through monthly installments or all at once after the device is installed.

At Tuesday's press conference, Gov. Janet Mills said the new grant funds will help Maine meet a new goal of installing at least 275,000 heat pumps of all kinds by 2027.