By George Harvey
Dee’s Electric is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. The company was founded by Arthur “Dee” Kilburn in 1964. Now Dee’s son, Mike Kilburn, is continuing the family business traditions.
Interestingly, one of the family traditions is working with heat pumps. In fact, it is hard to imagine anyone in Vermont having a longer tradition with the product. Dee’s Electric took on heat pumps as a standard line in 1973. In those days, General Electric was promoting heat pumps as a way to heat buildings that were able to take advantage of low electric rates during low demand periods at night and on weekends.
The heat pumps of those days were nowhere near as efficient as today’s models, some of which will deliver heat at temperatures down to -15° F and are reasonably efficient well below 0°. In those days, the lower efficiency was not as much of an issue, because the world was experiencing a gas crisis and people were looking for alternatives to oil. The old models were discontinued when oil prices went down and anxieties faded, but they had given Dee’s a lot of experience that would come in handy in the fullness of time.
In the 1990’s, Dee’s took on a new kind of system, a type Mike Kilburn says is a type of water- source heat pump. This is not a system that would normally be used in a home, but one in which heat can be pumped from one part of a building to another, as might be beneficial in many industrial or commercial buildings. A closed loop of circulating water is heated or cooled by local heat pumps, with outside heat or cooling applied from a variety of sources.
This means that a manufacturing plant with operations that give off excessive heat could have those areas cooled by pumping heat into the circulating water, while an office, for example, could extract heat from the same water as it goes through. In a time of year in which the entire facility needs heat, any sort of heat source, including a heat pump that gets heat from the outside air or ground, could provide it to the loop.
The turn of the century brought a new sort of heat pump business to Dee’s, in which the customers were typically homeowners and small commercial operations. Dee’s installs ground source heat pumps when they are needed, but does much more work with air-source units. Mike Kilburn has focused on the Mitsubishi, which he believes is a reliable, high-quality unit.
We might point out that Dee’s Electric is not just about heat pumps. The company’s primary business line is general electrical contracting, including tying solar systems to the grid. For this purpose Dee’s partners with other businesses that specialize in solar PV installations. But for those who need a heat pump, which may include just about anyone who does not have one, it is hard to imagine a company with more experience than Dee’s Electric.
Happy 50th Anniversary to Dee’s Electric.