Green Mountain Power Corp,Green Mountain Power kicked off what is believed to be the first utility-sponsored heat pump rental program in the country today, a pilot effort centered in Rutland and intended to save customers money and demonstrate the comfort air-source heat pumps can provide in a cold-weather climate. The rental program includes installation of air-source heat pumps in homes and businesses with no up-front costs for the customer, and is expected to save participants hundreds of gallons of heating fuel and thousands of dollars each year. ‘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,’GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. ‘This program will help demonstrate that value, while creating jobs for installers and freeing up customers’cash for other purposes.’ Cold climate heat pumps, also known as mini-split heat pumps, are ductless heating systems that also provide air conditioning during hot weather. Installed in less than a day, a heat pump includes an outdoor unit that works as a heat exchanger, like the compressor in a refrigerator, and is connected with copper tubing to a small interior unit. In cold weather, gas within the copper tubing extracts heat from outdoor air down to temperatures of about 13 below zero, and the warmth is brought inside. In hot weather, the process reverses to cool the building. GMP plans to heat its Energy Innovation Center largely with air-source heat pumps. ‘The pilot is intended to provide support for our expectation of customer and environmental benefits, and help jumpstart this new heating option in Vermont,’said Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation. ‘With our low carbon energy mix, we can slash air emissions from heating, and we expect participating customers will find dramatic improvements in home comfort, both summer and winter.’ Under the pilot program, GMP will pay to install heat pumps in up to 200 customers’homes and small businesses, and rent them to the property owners for $45 to $50 per month. GMP plans to focus on enrollment in Rutland and surrounding towns, though other customers may also participate. Customers interested in enrolling in the pilot, or who would like more information, may call Bruce Bentley at (802) 345-6470, Kirk Shields at (802) 770-4246 or Amanda Beraldi at (802) 353-9241 in the Energy Innovation Center. Through a heat pump summit last fall and a program with Efficiency Vermont and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont to package weatherization with heat pump incentives, GMP has developed relationships with numerous installers in the HVAC, plumbing and home performance industries. Six models are available through two manufacturers, Mitsubishi and Daikin. About Green Mountain PowerGreen Mountain Power (www.greenmountainpower.com(link is external)) generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in the state of Vermont. The company, which serves more than 250,000 customers, has set its vision to be the best small utility in America.