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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

New heat-pump technology helps Maine reduce oil use, reach climate goals

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023   

A new report shows Maine is exceeding the home-heating goals set forth in its ambitious four-year climate plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The state surpassed its goal of installing 100,000 heat pumps earlier this summer, and Gov. Janet Mills quickly set a new target of 275,000 by 2027.

Michael Stoddard, Efficiency Maine Trust executive director, said new refrigeration cycle technology is helping both the climate and consumers, who've struggled with volatile prices in home heating oil.

"The advent of highly effective at very cold temperatures and very cost-effective air-sourced heat pumps has been a huge breakthrough for us," Stoddard explained.

Close to 30% of Maine's greenhouse-gas emissions come from heating homes and businesses. The state has set a goal of going carbon neutral by 2045 and is aggressively promoting heat pumps to help reach that target.

The cold and rural state of Maine is the nation's most dependent on home heating oil, with nearly 60% of households reliant on the fuel for warmth, compared with just 4% nationally.

Stoddard said often, households will install a heat pump and continue to use heating oil as a backup source, but added a whole-home heat-pump system can save consumers roughly $1,000 a year.

"So, you can imagine what the impacts of that are, expanded across all the homes that we touch and that we will touch over the next decade," he said.

Stoddard noted many antiquated school buildings in rural Maine could also reap financial rewards by transitioning their heating systems, and said federal and state programs offering financial incentives, especially rebates, are helping drive consumer demand for more efficient heating technologies that also benefit the climate.


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