Here in Maine, we know winter.

Living in one of the coldest states in America, Mainers understand what it takes to get through the season and overcome bone-chilling temperatures, freezing wind chills and numerous snowstorms.

It’s why we welcome anything that will make our lives easier during those cold months. Over the past years, Mainers have increasingly adopted highly efficient heat heat pumps to warm their homes at a rate three times higher than the national average. After shattering its goal to deploy 100,000 heat pumps two years ahead of schedule, Maine is on its way to installing 320,000 heat pumps by 2027.

The reason is clear: heat pumps are the superior heating option, offering massive cost savings and climate benefits. According to Efficiency Maine, at $3.99 per gallon of heating oil, Mainers can save more than $1,600 on their annual energy bills by switching to a heat pump. Cold climate heat pumps remain more than twice as efficient than gas furnaces, resulting in cost savings for residents who make the switch.

On top of these benefits, heat pumps are the most effective way to deliver cleaner air and reduce emissions from Maine’s buildings. Fossil fuel equipment such as boilers and gas furnaces emit nitrogen oxides, a family of poisonous, highly reactive gases that react in the sunlight to form ozone pollution. Short term exposure to ozone, also known as “smog” can cause shortness of breath or trigger asthma attacks, and exacerbate existing health conditions like asthma, COPD, in the long term. By upgrading to highly efficient heat pumps and eliminating the harmful pollutants caused by burning fossil fuels, Maine residents can breathe healthy air that benefits their health and well-being. Further, replacing a gas furnace with an electric heat pump cuts climate pollution from the average Maine home by 35% in the first year and 66% over the lifetime of the equipment.

Under the guise of concern for low-income residents, utilities are working hard to push for heating systems that will drive up costs for consumers, arguing that Mainers must keep fossil fuel systems as a backup. But this “solution” will only protect utility profits while backfiring for residents. Supplementing heat pumps with boilers or gas furnaces lowers the efficiency of the heat pump, sticking residents with a less effective heating system, higher bills and more health-harming air pollution.

The fact is, adopting a highly efficient heat pump that serves the whole home, not just as an accessory to an existing fossil fuel system, can allow Maine residents to access $4,000 in rebates, which increase to $8,000 depending on income. In addition to robust federal subsidies, Maine has invested in programs to help rural and low-income communities transition to highly efficient heat pumps. The state was recently awarded a $10 million grant that will support the installation of heat pumps in rural homes, where some of the state’s lowest-income residents live. Efficiency Maine has also made major strides in helping residents reap the cost savings of heat pumps, making Maine the “heat pump capital of America” thanks to its streamlined, low-cost installation process.

Utility companies shouldn’t make Mainers pay more for a worse product just to pad their pockets. Luckily, Mainers see through their cynical disinformation campaign and continue to take advantage of whole-home heat pumps that dramatically lower costs and improve health outcomes. The best way forward for our health, our wallets, and our climate is upgrading homes with innovative clean heat solutions. That’s how we’ll keep warm each winter and ensure our kids grow up in homes with cleaner, healthier air.

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