BRATTLEBORO -- Thomas Hand thinks Vermont is great place to launch a nationwide initiative to get more home owners to install energy saving heat pumps.
And if you are going to start such a program, Hand said, then Brattleboro is the perfect community to give it a test run.
"Our goal is to make this a national company that works to bring down the cost of heat pumps," said Hand, one of the founders of Glow, the company that is launching the initiative. "Vermont is a green state and Brattleboro has a reputation of being a very green community so it seems like a great place to do this."
Cold climate heat pumps use technology that is similar to what is found in refrigerators to transfer heat between outdoor and indoor air by compressing and expanding a refrigerant.
The pumps collect heat from outside the house and deliver it inside on the heating cycle.
Efficiency Vermont estimates that a cold weather heat pump can save about $1,268 annually when compared to a propane heater, while a property owner who burns oil to heat a home can save about $865 when oil is $3.75 a gallon.
"This used to only work in warm climates but in the last couple of years the technology has improved and they now work during cold winters," he said. "Over the past few years we have seen more of them in Connecticut and New York we think Vermont is ready."
Along with saving money, Hand said heat pumps use electricity to generate heat, which in Vermont means fewer greenhouse gases are created because the Vermont electric grid is powered with hydro, solar, wind and nuclear energy.
The pumps work to about 10 degrees below zero so home owners are encouraged to keep their existing heating source to kick in when it is too cold for the heat pump.
Hand is trying to get 25 property owners to commit to purchasing a heat pump in what he is calling a community heat pump program.
It will typically cost a home owner about $5,000 to purchase and install a heat pump, according to Hand, and he said if he gets 25 Brattleboro home owners to sign on to his program his company will be able to purchase and install them for about $4,000.
Glow is offering two payment options that allow the homeowner to purchase the unit or the company will lease the heat pump on a no-money-down lease arrangement.
Hand grew up in Dorset, attended Middlebury College and just completed his master’s degree at Stanford University.
He said he is looking forward to moving back to New England to help increase the use of heat pumps across the region.
"We’ve been watching this technology improve and trying to figure out why everyone in Vermont is not doing this to save money," Hand said. "It seems like there is a great opportunity to make this purchase and help drive down the cost for everybody. We’ll see how this works in Brattleboro and hopefully expand it down the road."
For more information, visit www.GlowHeat.com.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.