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Energy | Environment

Ductless Heat Pumps Get a Northwest Push

BOISE, Idaho – A Northwest non-profit Tuesday launched an incentive to get people thinking about an energy-saving approach that has yet to make it big in America.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) says one person will be randomly selected to receive $10,000 among those who go online to learn more about ductless heating and cooling systems at

NEEA spokeswoman Alexis Allan says her organization hopes the incentive will encourage people to start considering a system that can reduce energy use and also save money. Allan says residential savings could cut the annual heating and cooling costs by 25% to 50%. Allan says slogan of the alliance’s campaign is: “You don’t have to live like it’s 1975.”

Ductless heat pump systems actually have been popular since the 1970s — in Asia and Europe. The NEEA and its partner utilities in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana are promoting them in the region after testing them in 2008 and getting encouraging energy-saving results.

Ductless Heating Benefits

According to the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance:

  • The region could conserve 200 average megawatts a year (enough to power 150,000 homes) if more than half of all residents makes the switch to ductless pump systems.

  • 91 utilities in the Northwest offer rebates up to $1,500

  • Ductless pump systems save customers between 25% to 50% on annual utility bills

Ductless systems are small units similar to window air conditioners but installers put them in the wall near the ceiling. In Boise, Michael Brown sells and installs ductless heating and cooling units at Jim’s Heating Company. He says customers may be concerned about the installation process since they do have to cut into the walls, adding that manufacturers provide installation training to companies like his. A typical installation usually only takes about four hours.

In Oregon, the Eugene Water and Electric Board offers the maximum $1,500 rebate and customers can also apply for tax credits through the state.

Idaho Power spokeswoman Celeste Becia says her utility offers $750 dollars to any customer who installs one of the new ductless systems.

The current push of rebates and a cash-prize drawing may focus on ductless heating and cooling systems. But such incentives are hardly new to the Northwest. Becia says they seem to be working, since the region leads most of the U.S. at slowing the need for additional power generation.

“The actual numbers of new generation — although there is still new generation out there and that’s still going to continue — has been much less than it would have otherwise been had we not had those programs in place,” she says.

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