By Sarah Brock
More than 130 Upper Valley residents turned out last month for a series of Weatherize Upper Valley Kick-Off events in Norwich, Randolph, Royalton, and Weathersfield.
The events marked the beginning of Weatherize Upper Valley, a five-month campaign to help residents in 14 Vermont towns (Bethel, Braintree, Brookfield, Cavendish, Hartland, Hartford, Norwich, Randolph, Reading, Royalton, Sharon, Thetford, Weathersfield, and Windsor) save energy and stay warm by air- sealing and insulating their homes.
The Weatherize Upper Valley campaign aims to double the number of homes in the region participating in Efficiency Vermont’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program each year. This would mean 150 homes committed to weatherization projects by the end of May.
According to Efficiency Vermont, these projects cost, on average, $7,800 and result in average energy savings of 26%. However, many attendees at last month’s events were surprised to learn that the real benefit of weatherization is comfort.
“Before we did this weatherization work, this was a pretty drafty 1860s farmhouse,” explained Norwich resident Alan Berolzheimer at a January 18 event in Norwich. “The transformation has been very noticeable—we don’t feel cold drafts along the floor, the central part of the house holds its heat longer, and it’s all around a lot more comfortable.”
Over a dozen home energy champions—homeowners who have already weatherized their homes—turned out at the events to share their stories with friends and neighbors.
Weatherization projects in Vermont are more affordable than ever this spring. Efficiency Vermont offers rebates up to $2,500 to help participants cover the cost of these improvements. At the same time, more and more residents are choosing to finance their home energy projects through special, unsecured, low-interest energy loans like the Heat Saver Loan and the NeighborWorks Energy Loan, with rates between 0 % and 4.99 %.
Weatherize Upper Valley adds additional financial incentives for residents in participating towns. The program’s partner contractors are offering free home consultations and quotes to encourage residents to participate. Residents who sign a contract with a partner contractor by May 31 are also entered to win up to $2,500 toward the cost of their project, in addition to available rebates.
To date, more than 200 residents have signed up to participate in Weatherize Upper Valley, with more than 35 already in the process of completing a free home assessment with the program’s contractors.
Readers can learn more at VitalCommunities.org/Weatherize.
Weatherize Upper Valley is a program of Vital Communities, a nonprofit serving 69 towns in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire. Program partners include seven local contractors (5 Star Energy Tech, Building Energy, Montpelier Construction, Peachtree Builders, Solsaa Building and Energy, Van de Ven Construction, and Vermont Foam Insulation), over 50 volunteers, and Efficiency Vermont. The program is made possible by funding support from Jane’s Trust Foundation, Canaday Family Foundation, Harris and Francis Block Foundation, Efficiency Vermont, Catamount Solar, Dead River Fuels, and JAM Fuels.
Sarah Brock is the Energy Program manager for Vital Communities, a nonprofit that brings people together to find solutions to regional challenges in the Upper Valley.
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