Efficiency Maine’s Innovation Program provides modest funding for pilot projects to demonstrate new types of energy efficiency, conservation, alternative energy measures, or new strategies for promoting existing measures. The program has two pilot projects underway. The first, a building tune-up project with long-term care facilities, is testing two strategies for achieving energy savings: (1) analyzing interval data to identify, and verify, energy savings, and (2) using pay-for-performance incentives to motivate facility managers to achieve persistent savings over time.
In partnership with the Maine Health Care Association, an initial 15 facilities received a detailed energy-use study; 10 facilities were then selected for the current phase of the pilot. These participants will learn how to assess building performance with interval data and how to identify energy saving opportunities through a building tune-up. Efficiency Maine will provide financial incentives for the initial tune-up investment and the building management practices required for persistent energy savings. Staff is currently working with the participants to move the tune-up projects forward. In the meantime, aggregated findings from the energy-usage studies were presented at the Maine Health Care Association Conference, on October 4.
The second ongoing pilot project is exploring whether heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) in commercial properties can effectively take available waste heat from the businesses’ existing activities and use it to generate hot water, creating a more efficient water heating mechanism than was previously in place. Efficiency Maine partnered with Pratt Abbott to install two commercial HPWHs at its facilities, one in a boiler room and one at a laundromat. The HPWHs were installed in November of last year, alongside energy and temperature sensors. After a year of data is collected, Efficiency Maine will evaluate the energy savings associated with the installations.
The Innovation Program has several pilots planned for the next year. For example, Efficiency Maine will partner with businesses and contractors to test roof-top unit controllers that are designed to improve operational efficiency through multispeed controls and other ways of modulating roof top output. Efficiency Maine will also partner with Central Maine Power (CMP) to identify new avenues for helping low-income Mainers save energy. The pilot will explore innovative strategies for using CMP’s Energy Manager platform to inform and motivate low-income customers to take steps to reduce their electricity use, lower their electricity bills, and reduce bad debt. The pilot will build on the work that Efficiency Maine and CMP are doing through the Public Utilities Commission’s Arrearage Management Program stakeholder group. Over the next year the Innovation Program will also continue research improving ductless heat pump utilization through smart thermostats that control more than one heating system.