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An 1850s home goes from fuel oil to a heat pump

Will Bleakley of Portland, Maine is saving $1,000 a year on energy bills with his heat pump

Vicky Volvovski
June 4, 2024

Will Bleakley moved into his home in Portland, Maine about 3 years ago. The house, which was built in the 1890s, was heated with radiators powered by a fuel oil boiler. The heat was expensive, and the house didn’t have air conditioning.

Will knew that swapping to a heat pump system would be a meaningful up front cost, but Efficiency Maine was offering a rebate up to $1200, which would bring the cost down. 

“The sooner I did this, the quicker I would start saving money,” Will reasoned. He also wanted air conditioning. “Traditionally in Maine, you didn’t need AC in the summers, but that’s changing now. It gets so humid on the coast, and I knew heat pumps were good at sucking out humidity,” 

With a heat pump, he could solve his expensive heating and get air conditioning.

Finding an installer proved to be tricky, with many companies giving conflicting information and having long wait times. “I didn’t know who to trust,” Will says. He sought out unbiased opinions from Canopy to help him make a decision and to pick a high-quality contractor.

Will chose a two-zone Mitsubishi mini-split system. He has 2 outdoor condensers and 3 indoor units – one in the main living and dining space, one in the master bedroom, and one in the kitchen which also serves the back bedrooms. 

He’s kept the boiler and radiators for supplemental heating, especially in the back bedrooms that the kitchen mini-split doesn’t reach when the doors are closed. “The heat pump covered over 95% of our heating load in the winter,” Will says, adding that they ran the radiators in the back bedrooms only on the coldest days. 

This summer, the heat pump has made a real difference to the comfort of his home. “It’s been really humid and hot in Maine this year,” he says. “People literally wanted to come over because it’s so much more pleasant here than at their homes. It wildly surpassed my expectations.”

In addition to comfort, Will is also saving money on his energy bills. “My utility has a seasonal heat pump rate plan that I signed up for in the winter, which made the energy even cheaper,” Will says. This winter, he estimates he’s saved $1,000 by using his heat pump instead of his fuel oil boiler to heat his home. 

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