There is an initiative in the state to weatherize 80,000 homes (25 percent of the total) by the year 2020. Comprehensive and rapid weatherization of Vermont’s buildings will bring two significant benefits to homes and businesses: (1) Vermonters will be less vulnerable to volatility in the fuel market and to effects from dramatic weather fluctuations, and (2) more money will stay within the Vermont economy. At current fuel prices, thermal efficiency investments in a home can bring average savings of approximately $1,000 per year over the lifetime of the investment. The value of these savings increases as fuel prices rise.
Almost all Vermont homes need a weatherization upgrade, and the worst ones are easily spotted. Icicles tell the story. The bulk of a home’s heat leaves in the form of hot air. Hot air rises though wall cavities, plumbing chases, ceiling light fixtures and attic hatches, carrying comfort and money with it. The icicles are left behind, flagging a home in need of help.
Many people put more insulation in their attics thinking it will help, but air moves easily through fiberglass and loose cellulose and dodges around rigid foam board that isn’t sealed. What’s required is air sealing — finding and plugging all the holes hot air moves through. It is not always easy work, and air sealing also can create problems if not done in conjunction with moisture mitigation and health and safety testing of the heat system and air quality.
As a professional building analyst, I understand it is hard to begin weatherization with an energy audit, but a whole house assessment will direct you to remedies that work in concert to make your home safer, more comfortable and less costly to live in. Weatherization projects can be cash positive, which means that the savings can be greater than paying your current fuel bill. To learn more about grant money and how to start, contact Efficiency Vermont 888-921-5990 (www.efficiencyvt.com/homeperformance). To learn more about the statewide initiative go to http://publicservicedept.vermont.gov/topics/energy_efficiency/tetf.
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