Temperatures across Vermont are now regularly dipping down into the 30s at night, and residents of the Green Mountain State are buckling down and buttoning up for yet another frigid winter in the Northeast.
Vermont’s harsh winters are nothing new, but this year there’s more aid for residents who want to better buttress their homes against sub-zero temperatures and freezing winds.
Working with the state government, several weatherization groups and electric utilities launched the 2019 Button Up Vermont campaign earlier this month. The campaign seeks to help Vermonters “save money, increase comfort and cut carbon” emissions by helping to identify and fund improvements to make homes more energy efficient and warm during the coming winter.
Along with cutting carbon emissions, projects aimed at buttoning up homes can help households reduce their energy burden — the percentage of income spent on electricity, heat and transportation.
There are significant opportunities in energy efficiency, U.S. Rep Peter Welch said on a recent visit to the Stowe Reporter.
“We should do anything that brings down carbon emissions and not jeopardize the potential for some progress” that can arise from a partisan debate about fuel sources,” Welch said. “Let’s use less of whatever that (fuel) source is, and that saves money, creates jobs and reduces carbon emissions.”
Here’s a look at some of this year’s Button Up incentives:
• A rebate for weatherization projects performed by a qualified contractor, called “Home Performance with ENERGY STAR,” offers rebates of 50 percent for projects that cost up to $8,000 for moderate-income households, and 25 percent for higher-income households.
“The rebates are good across the state, whether or not your town is a Button Up Vermont town,” said Jeff Buell, public relations manager at Efficiency Vermont. The cost of a given project varies, but typical upgrades that are possible at or below the $8,000 threshold include air sealing, insulation, and new windows to name just a few, Buell said.
For more about the rebate program: buttonupvermont.org/rebates.
• The Home Energy Loan program offers no- and low-interest loans, also based on household income, for other weatherization and home improvement projects that make residences more efficient.
Projects performed under the scope of the loan program often go beyond the smaller projects done through the rebate program, Buell said. Homeowners can apply for no- or low-interest loans to finance 100 percent of projects ranging up to $40,000, he said.
For more information about the Home Energy Loans, or to apply: efficiencyvermont.com.
• Smaller rebates are available through several organizations to help complete smaller projects.
A $500 rebate is available when hiring a contractor to do something simple like weatherizing an attic or basement, and anyone doing their own home improvements can apply for a $100 rebate.
A list of projects available for rebates and more information about the program is available at: efficiencyvermont.com/rebates.
• Residents of the 52 towns actively participating in Button Up Vermont are also able to take part in additional incentives, including weatherization workshops, tours of energy efficient homes, and home visits by contractors, who can give advice before a weatherization project moves forward.
Local municipalities who are active partners in Button Up Vermont include Bolton, Craftsbury, Greensboro, Huntington, Hyde Park, Jericho, Johnson, Morristown and Morrisville, Stowe and Waterbury. Local energy committees in the participating towns will take point on all the available incentives and programs included with Button Up Vermont.
Workshops include tips on which projects need a contractor, projects that can be done on your own, and what resources are available.
“Basic info to get started,” Buell said. The homes being toured will be those where weatherization and other improvements have already been made, he said, and anyone participating in a workshop or tour can also sign up to have a contractor visit their own home.
“They’ll walk through and give you free advice,” on how to button up your residence and make it more efficient, Buell said. “It’s access to expert advice.”
Home visits by contractors will be conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis in the participating towns, and they will be available in different counties during different windows.
In Lamoille and Orleans counties, home visits are available between Nov. 4 and Dec. 6. In Washington County, the visits will be conducted between Dec. 9 and Jan. 24.
For more information: buttonupvermont.org.