Last month (April 2023), CEAC put out a survey via Front Porch Forum and our newsletter asking Addison County residents about weatherization and energy efficiency programs. We wanted to learn what weatherization, energy efficiency, and electrification options you were interested in, what programs you were aware of, and what barriers there might be to accessing these.
We deeply appreciate all the time taken to fill out these surveys. In total, 134 people from 23 different Addison County towns responded. 53% of respondents reported income under $89,999. Of all the improvements listed, the improvement of highest interest was professional weatherization (60 people indicated this as an area of interest).
The results were helpful and the comments insightful bringing up points and questions for us to consider as we continue to research implementing an energy navigator program in Addison County.
There were several questions brought up in the survey that we wanted to address. We also saw that 76 respondents were not familiar with CVOEO Weatherization and 86 respondents were not familiar with VSECU’s 0% interest Home Energy Loans. Below are a few answers to some of the questions brought up as well as some resources.
Renters: 17 of respondents were renters. We appreciated the feedback from some that the survey didn’t seem geared toward renters and apologize for this. We were actually very curious to hear from renters and in the future realized a separate survey might be a better way to get your feedback. See below for some renter specific resources. If any renters have more feedback they would like to share, we would love to hear from you!
Heat Pump Maintenance: There were several questions about heat pump maintenance. As with any heating system, heat pumps require occasional maintenance. For ductless systems, the filter for the indoor unit should be cleaned regularly (checking monthly is a good idea). This is about a five minute project and can be done using the brush attachment of a vacuum or gently rinsing. The outdoor unit should be serviced every year or two. Your professional heat pump cleaner should be able to recommend at your first cleaning if you need it cleaned more or less frequently. Proper maintenance helps with both longevity and efficiency of your unit. Here is a bit more info from energy.gov. Both Efficiency VT and Efficiency Maine have good brief summaries about Heat Pump Operation and Maintenance. Cost for yearly maintenance is around $240 for a ductless system with one head; this is currently a gap for accessibility and is something Addison County Regional Planning Commission is currently looking into addressing. This is another helpful, straightforward and brief guide to generally getting the most out of your heat pump.
Resources: While we are still navigating implementing a formal Navigator Pilot Program, we are very happy for folks to reach out to us with questions. Additionally, here are some resources to get you started.
- CVOEO Weatherization offers weatherization and applicable appliance upgrades for renters as well as homeowners (at no cost to you–see below).
- Check out Efficiency’s VT easy low to no cost ideas for Energy Savings for Renters https://www.efficiencyvermont.com/blog/how-to/the-renter-s-guide-to-energy-savings
CVOEO Weatherization provides energy audits, heating systems checks, complete weatherization and free lighting and appliance upgrades where applicable. If they encounter asbestos/vermiculite during the course of their work, remediation is included. For those that are income eligible, this service is completely free. For those that rent, CVOEO Weatherization will still perform these services with permission from your landlord. Landlords that participate in the program are not allowed to raise rents due to any weatherization costs, however landlords may qualify for the service to be completely free as well. Please note that the waiting list can be quite long, but the sooner you get on, the sooner you receive the services! Learn more about their programs here and check if you are eligible here. Not eligible for CVOEO? Check out the resources below.
HeatSquad Energy Audit: If you don’t qualify for CVOEO, HeatSquad offers Energy Audits at $150 for buildings up to 2,500 square feet. For each additional 500 square feet over 2,500 square feet, the cost increases by $100. You can schedule your audit here.
VSECU/Efficiency VT Loan Program Vermont State Employees Credit Union offers Home Energy Loans for cold climate heat pumps, weatherization, and solar hot water installations. Loans are available at 0% interest rate for household incomes below $90,000 for a five year loan. Please note, the minimum loan amount is $5,000 and contractors must be on Efficiency VT’s approved list of contractors. More information about the loan can be found at www.vsecu.com/personal/green-loans/home-energy
Efficiency VT Resources Efficiency VT offers a free virtual home energy consultation to all. This is different from an energy audit as it is done virtually and can result in some simple and affordable next steps along with more elaborate areas to pursue. Please note VT Gas Customers will be directed to receive their consultation through VT Gas. Efficiency VT also has a full list of their available rebates here.
Inflation Reduction Act Funds Our understanding is that some of these funds will be available later this Spring and Summer and will likely be administered through Efficiency Vermont and the State’s Community Action Agencies (CVOEO is Addison county). There use in Vermont will include expanding our existing incentives as well as two new programs (not yet available):
- The Home Energy Performance-Based Whole-House Rebates (HOMES) Program-$2,000-$8,000 rebates for eligible households for whole-home energy saving retrofits and weatherization
- The High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Program–Point-of-sale rebates for low to moderate income households for heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, electric stove and ovens and electric service upgrades. Up to $14,000 total with up to $8,000 for heat pumps, $1,750 for heat pump water heaters, and $840 for electric stoves.
- There will also be tax rebates available regardless of income. Here is a list of tax rebates that we know will be available so far for 2023. Also of note, the IRA incentives will be in addition to already existing funding/incentives/rebates. More information about the IRA roll out in Vermont is available on the Department of Public Service website here.
Workforce Development Support We certainly need more professionals in the decarbonization sector! Our understanding is that there is a lot of room for advancement. If you or someone you know is just starting out or looking for a new career where they can make a difference there are several stipend training programs for both weatherization and heat pump installation work:
- Resource VT offers a free stipend program to become a weatherization technician. To learn more and apply visit https://resourcevt.org/training-programs/weatherization-101/.
- VT Adult Education offers a program called Energy Works with separate weatherization and heat pump installation training. Stipend provided. For those that are learning English, they also offer an English Language Learning at work program (scroll to bottom of link above).
- VT Works for Women also offers a free job training program in construction and renewable energy for women and gender expansive individuals. Learn more here.
Don’t know where to start? Have more questions or feedback for us? Please feel free to reach out to us by contacting our Community Climate Program Manager at email@example.com.
Thank you to all those that filled out the surveys!