Advocates for home efficiency call it a major leap forward: more than $2.5 million is now available to people across the state of Vermont to upgrade their properties.
The goal is to incentivize projects that both save people money long-term and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We can totally tell the difference already,” said Graham Dowie of Jericho, who recently had new air sealing, better insulation, and a fan system installed in his home.
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Even without air conditioning, the improvements helped keep Dowie’s home a comfortable 71 degrees Friday.
“Our interest was making our home more comfortable in the winter, but we’re feeling it in the summer,” Dowie told necn.
Efficiency Vermont, the state-regulated utility that works to promote energy savings, is spreading the word about $2.6 million in new incentives to make it easier for moderate-income families like Dowie’s to weatherize their homes by the end of 2020.
“This is a big deal,” said Rebecca Foster of Efficiency Vermont. “These are the best incentives we’ve ever offered for this kind of work.”
A family of four making $11,600 a year or less in the Burlington area, or $95,600 in the rest of the state, qualifies to get up to $4,000 back on their project costs. Higher-income households can still get $2,000 back.
In addition to receiving the rebates, participating homeowners who heat with oil are expected to save $500 a year on their heating and cooling bills, Foster said.
The $2.6 million in incentive money comes from operational savings Efficiency Vermont is passing onto consumers, plus funding approved by the Vermont Legislature.
Zero-interest loans are also available, Foster said, with a goal of cutting fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gases in the state.
Currently, Vermont homes and businesses spend roughly a half-billion dollars a year on fossil fuels, said June Tierney, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service.
“This is a path toward keeping some of those dollars in-state, which is so very important to our economy,” Tierney said at an announcement of the incentives Friday.
“Fighting climate change has often been viewed as the purview of people who have the resources to buy electric cars or hybrids or have the money to make the kind of weatherization or heating efficiency improvements in their homes,” added Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden County. “Our goal, and I think today reflects that, is to democratize fighting climate change.”
Foster said the pot of money is limited, so suggested that consumers research their home projects soon. For more information on the rebates, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990, or visit its website.
Efficiency Vermont also recommended homeowners check with their utilities, because they, too, may have incentives available to help make their homes more efficient.