Active Efficiency in Action

The best way to understand the value of Active Efficiency is to see it in action. There are many examples that demonstrate the potential of Active Efficiency. Between the economic, social, and environmental benefits, the hard work that goes into making these examples successful is something to be celebrated.

Beneficial Electrification through the Efficiency Maine Trust

In Maine, winters are long and cold, and 62% of heating uses costly and polluting #2 fuel oil. In 2013, the Efficiency Maine Trust (EMT) kickstarted a program to incentivize high-performance, mini-split ductless heat pumps and, a few years later, heat pump water heaters.

EMT utilized aggressive online ad campaigns, public service announcements, and a strong partnership with more than 400 trade allies to promote the electrification of space and water heating with high-efficiency heat pumps. EMT provides tiered rebates, ranging from $500-$2,000 and financing on more than 55,000 high-efficiency mini-split ductless heat pumps that meet the minimum rating of 12 heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF). In 2019, EMT also crafted legislation that established a goal of installing 100,000 new high-performance heat pumps in Maine homes and businesses over five years and secured funding commitments of nearly $20 million/year for financial incentives to help achieve the goal.

Maine is the first state in the nation to achieve beneficial electrification of heating at scale, seeing 25-30% growth in uptake of high-performance heat pumps in each of the past three years. Through a parallel program incentivizing heat pump water heaters, Maine received 9% of all heat pump water heaters purchased in 2018, and is on pace to add 7,000 units in market-based homes and 1,000 additional units in low-income homes in FY2020. The program has achieved superb geographic distribution in Maine’s rural communities.

The cumulative total of heat pumps installed since the program’s inception is estimated to offset the equivalent of 1,400,364 gallons of oil per year (while consuming 133,565,563 kWh/y in electricity). For the heat pump water heater program, the estimated cumulative annual savings of the 32,000 water units installed since inception is 65,280,000 kWh/year.

There are two keys to EMT’s success with beneficial electrification. First, EMT set minimum standards for product performance and contractor eligibility and has focused on verifying and reporting on the results. This has produced extremely high customer satisfaction and convinced policymakers and regulators to allocate funding for rebates, freeing up local small businesses to help with marketing, closing sales, and installation. Second, EMT’s online presence – with GoogleAds, Facebook ads, and YouTube “User Tips” – has provided clear and convincing information that contractors use to sell and customers use to shop and which could be replicated easily.