Like many multifamily properties in Maine, the Townsend Apartment complex in Augusta was outfitted with electric baseboard heat during its initial construction. Electric baseboard is inexpensive to install, has no maintenance, is easy to zone, and provides a simple mechanism to account for the heating demand of each unit by putting heating cost on each tenant’s electricity bill.
While electric heat provides some benefits for managing a property, it is an expensive method for heating in Maine. Electric resistance heat costs 40% more than oil heat when oil is at $3 per gallon. Savvy tenants recognize that renting an apartment with electric heat will cost them more money.
The owner of Townsend Apartments also recognized this and contracted Insource Renewables to install a mini-split heat pump unit in each apartment of the 12-unit complex. This approach will reduce heating costs by 60-70%. In addition, these units will provide more comfortable cooling than the existing air conditioning units for a fraction of the electricity.
A major consideration on this project was the appearance of the heat pumps from the road. Six of the heat pumps are installed on the front of the building, and we took significant care to ensure that the outdoor units and the conduit for the refrigeration lines were as inconspicuous as possible.