Windham Region hosts “A Roadmap to Energy Efficiency” Roundtable
Energy efficiency: less risk than the stock market, often better returns. The economic and environmental merits of energy conservation and efficiency have long been touted, but navigating the process of weatherizing homes and upgrading heating systems can be a difficult and confusing one. On January 20, 2015, citizens from throughout the Windham Region packed the conference room at the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust building in Brattleboro, VT. The event was co-sponsored by the NeighborWorks Heat Squad, Brattleboro Climate Protection, Sustainable Energy Outreach Network, and the Windham Regional Commission.
Ben Griffin from the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) kicked off a series of lightening talks organized to provide homeowners, Town Energy Coordinators, and other interested citizens with tools and resources to improve energy efficiency in our homes and communities. VECAN provides numerous resources and technical support communities in organizing and developing Energy Committees.
Following Ben, Leigh Cameron from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund (NEGEF) shared information about their grant program. NEGEF (provides grants (typically in the $250-3,500 range to grassroots organizations (including Energy Committees) for community projects. Examples of fundable energy projects include an outreach campaign to start an Energy Committee and implementation of a community-wide energy plan.
The Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP) provides energy education to elementary school students throughout the state (usually grades 3 and up). Lisa Holderness, VEEP’s Energy Educator for southern Vermont, explained that it is a free service to schools. Many schools in the region have not taken advantage of this resource. If you would like more information or to find out if your local school is participating, please visit their website.
A “one-stop shop” for improving energy efficiency in your home, Bruce Whitney and Melanie Paskevich from the NeighborWorks Heat Squad described the many services they provide to help homeowners improve efficiency and save money. The process typically begins with a $100 (subsidized) energy audit in which a certified Energy Auditor will assess the efficiency of your home and provide recommendations for cost-effective improvements. NeighborWorks, a non-profit organization, also provides technical support and financing options to assist homeowners through the weatherization and upgrade process.
Efficiency Vermont provides programs and financial incentives to assist homeowners, businesses, and municipalities improve their efficiency. Jennifer Noraz, Home Performance Program Director of Efficiency Vermont is working to increase Efficiency Vermont’s visibility in Windham County. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program allows financing to be attached to the property rather than the owner, allowing transfer of payments with changes in ownership.
The USDA Rural Development provides support to municipalities, non-profits, and home and business owners with financial packages to assist with building improvements. Deborah Boyd, Rural Development Specialist, shared that low-interest loans and grants are offered to qualifying entities.
Dan Mackey from Green Mountain Power (GMP) wrapped up the evening. He explained that GMP is increasingly becoming a service provider. Besides offering project management services for weatherization (through eHome), GMP has initiated residential cold-climate heat pump and hot water heat pump lease programs, which allow homeowners to lease heat pumps for space heating and hot water with no upfront costs and with full warranty coverage for the duration of the lease.