Vermont has many beautiful old buildings built decades or centuries ago. These buildings add so much to our communities, but many rely on older, inefficient heating and lighting technologies. Many also leak heat in the winter and cool air in the summer, sending money right out through the walls.
The energy we use to heat Vermont’s residential, commercial and industrial buildings accounts for more than 30% of our total energy use and costs more than half a billion dollars a year. If we button up our buildings and transition to new, efficient heating systems fueled by renewable energy, we’ll make Vermont living more affordable, and we’ll help fight climate change too.
On this page:
- Wins From Building Energy Improvements
- How Vermont is Cutting Energy Use
- What You Can Do
Wins From Building Energy Improvement
Building and retrofitting energy efficient buildings is one of Vermont’s most important strategies for reducing carbon pollution.
As we improve our buildings, we’ll make Vermont more affordable. A typical Vermont residence spends between $1,500 and $2,200 annually on fossil-fuel heat, and costs for businesses can be substantially higher. Weatherizing buildings is a win for our bank accounts and a win for the future of our climate.
Vermonters who weatherize and insulate their buildings will also insulate their budgets against price swings in fuel markets. They’ll also lo reap health benefits of living and working in more comfortable and efficient buildings.
Choosing new clean and efficient heating systems that rely on electricity, geothermal heat, or wood instead of oil will bring Vermont families and businesses more long-term energy savings and more price predictability. Fossil fuels are cheap now, but many economists believe rising prices will return.
How Vermont is cutting energy use
When most of our residential and commercial buildings are weatherized and equipped with better heating and lighting systems, our state’s emissions of carbon pollution will be reduced dramatically.
State government is partnering with utilities and other organizations to create good information, services, and financial incentives for Vermonters.
Vermont Statute sets out the goal of weatherizing 80,000 housing units (20% of the total) by 2020. Vermonters who weatherize their homes in the next few years will support progress, save money, and make their homes more comfortable in all seasons.
To help get there, state agencies are working with utilities to increase and improve the services and incentives Vermonters can tap to support projects.
- Under Vermont’s new Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), utilities will help customers reduce their use of oil by weatherizing
- Vermont’s three efficiency utilities--Efficiency Vermont, Burlington Electric Department, and Vermont Gas) provide many incentives and help customers assess their opportunities and make decisions.
- The State’s weatherization assistance program helps lower-income residents—especially older Vermonters, people with disabilities, and families with children—save fuel and money by improving the energy efficiency of their homes, and offers several other efficiency resources.
- The State’s Home Energy Rating System can help homebuyers understand the efficiency of a home they are considering purchasing.
Changing most of the boilers and furnaces in our older buildings to systems that heat with electricity or wood is also a very important step Vermont can take to combat climate change and make living and doing business here more affordable.
Modern cold-climate heat pumps offer a great alternative; they can supply the majority of a typical building’s heating and cooling needs with much less energy. Heat pumps may also bring big cash savings, and since electricity prices are regulated they make heating costs more stable and predictable for Vermonters. Utilities are creating new programs for help Vermonters consider heat pump and other cleaner heating systems.
Vermont has adopted building energy standards to ensure that Vermont’s newly constructed buildings are strong energy performers.
LEDs are quickly replacing older bulbs for many uses from indoor lighting to street lights, and new products are extremely efficient. Replacing light bulbs or taking other small steps like tuning up boilers and furnaces every year make a real difference for energy savings and bills, and they contribute to the fight against climate change too.
The State’s Buildings and General Services Department is upgrading buildings so they use way less energy, emit less carbon pollution, and make government cheaper to run. Projects include weatherizing, lighting upgrades, converting to wood-fueled heating systems, and optimizing building controls.
New improvements at Vermont state fish hatcheries, for example, have reduced the state’s high energy bills for growing fish by more than_____ a year! Learn more.
What You Can Do
Make your home, business, or municipal building more comfortable and cheaper to heat, cool, and light, reducing risky dependence on unpredictable fossil fuel prices. There’s help available!
- Weatherize Get a full energy assessment. You’ll receive a report that prioritizes weatherization updates, available incentives, and the amount of money each update will save you. If you heat with fossil fuels this is likely the most effective way to save energy. Find additional energy-saving strategies through Button Up Vermont. Low income residents can receive discounted or even free services.
- Get Cleaner Heat Consider converting your heating system to wood or electricity.
- Buy Efficient Find the most efficient lights and appliances. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label. They may cost more to purchase, but they’ll likely save you money over their lifetime. Take advantage of in-store and mail-in rebates.
- Get Advice There are many local organizations ready to help answer your efficiency questions. Consider starting with your efficiency utility: Burlington residents, Vermont Gas customers, all other Vermonters.
- Get Financial Help There are several opportunities to finance your efficiency upgrades to your home, business, or farm. Your savings from reduced energy costs will likely pay your loan off quickly. If your income is less than 80% of the median income, you may get a free assessment and discounted or free weatherization work.
- Track Community Progress Add any update you make to your home or business on the Community Energy Dashboard. This tool helps your community shape its energy future at the local level with a powerful suite of interactive tools to set goals, track progress, map actions, share stories, and hear from trusted neighbors.
- Help your Neighbors Join a local energy committee or form a new one, and help build more awareness in your community about all the assistance Vermonters can tap to reduce energy use.
More videos at Button Up Vermont.