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PLENTY OF SLOTS STILL AVAILABLE IN VIRGINIA POWER HEAT PUMP PROGRAM

 RICHMOND, Va., July 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Virginia Power customers who want better performance from their heat pumps during this summer's hot weather can seek relief by enrolling in the company's Heat Pump Customer Assistance Program.
 The pilot program makes payments to residential heat pump owners for the inspection and repair of their units. Virginia Power will pay one- half the cost, up to $25, of a heat pump inspection, and one-half the cost, up to $500, of qualified repairs. All work will be performed by participating Comfort Assured Heat Pump Dealers, who have signed agreements with Virginia Power to maintain trained and certified technicians. The program will conclude by Aug. 31.
 Virginia Power believes the repairs performed under the program will improve comfort and may provide energy savings of 20 percent or more for participating residential customers. Homeowners who had their heat pumps repaired under a much smaller California program in 1989 and 1990 saw their annual heating and cooling energy use decline an average of more than 22 percent.
 "Heat pumps are the most energy-efficient climate control systems available, but their operation can be seriously impaired if they are not properly installed and maintained," said Thomas J. O'Neil, vice president-Energy Efficiency. "It's especially important that heat pumps function well during extremely hot weather. Better performance will help homeowners stay cooler while conserving energy."
 The Heat Pump Customer Assistance Program is part of Virginia Power's ConserVision approach to promoting energy efficiency and holding down customers' energy costs. In May the State Corporation Commission gave Virginia Power authority to reopen the program and make it available to approximately 4,600 Virginia homeowners this summer.
 About 5,400 residential heat pump owners participated in the program when Virginia Power first offered it during the fall of 1992. Heat pumps needed repairs in 44 percent of the participating homes. Common problems found by inspectors included dirty coils, incorrect freon charges, dirty filters and lack of duct insulation. Such defects interfere with air flow and overall efficiency.
 A Virginia Power survey earlier this year of customers who participated in the program in 1992 found high levels of satisfaction. Participants surveyed said they were pleased with the quality of the analysis and repairs.
 Information gathered from the Heat Pump Customer Assistance Program will be used to develop inspection and maintenance standards for Comfort Assured dealers and will also be used to help design future company programs to assist heat pump owners. Virginia Power estimates that there are about 500,000 heat pumps in its service area.
 -0- 7/9/93
 /NOTE: Homeowners may call the following Virginia Power Energy Efficiency Department telephone numbers to secure a slot in the Heat Pump Customer Assistance Program:
 Northern Virginia
 Office: 800-676-0217 or local Virginia Power
 district office
 Richmond area: 800-998-2606
 Hampton Roads area: 800-955-8279
 Western Virginia/
 Charlottesville area: 800-775-9276
 Southern Virginia: 800-827-7796
 To make faster service possible, customers should have their Virginia Power account numbers ready when calling./
 -0- 7/9/93
 /CONTACT: William H. Byrd of Virginia Power, 804-771-6115/


CO: Virginia Power ST: Virginia IN: OIL UTI SU:

IH-DC -- DC009 -- 9862 07/09/93 11:08 EDT
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Date:Jul 9, 1993
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