Can buttoning up help us weather the costs of climate change?
Have you weatherized your home or are you thinking about it? Weatherization is part of Vermont’s climate solution. Most people choose to weatherize, aka “buttoning up” for comfort or energy savings. But weatherization is also an important strategy for mitigating and adapting to climate change. Taking the steps to use less fossil fuel and avoid greenhouse gas emissions can help your household meet the financial and health-related challenges associated with climate change. Weatherization reduces emissions and supports resilience in the face of climate change.
Weatherization includes insulation and air sealing, helps save energy and money, and can make your home safer in the face of extreme weather caused by climate change.
The reason to weatherize has long been to reduce losing heated (or cooled) air from inside your home or business. However, the outcome that many people enjoy the most is that it is more comfortable in the winter and summer after weatherizing. Comfort means different things to different folks, here we are referring to consistent temperatures, appropriate humidity levels, and better indoor air quality. Air sealing also helps keep our small rodent and insect friends out of our living spaces. Not to mention the financial benefit of saving money on energy bills for heating and cooling. These benefits can add up to a climate resiliency plan for your home.
Climate change is expected to worsen negative health impacts associated with indoor temperature extremes (especially hotter temperatures), humidity, flooding, and periods of poor air quality (IOM 2011). Weatherization of your home may help to reduce the increased risks of health impacts brought on by a changing climate.
Take Kelsey, a first-time home buyer. Her converted one-room schoolhouse home was a unique piece of history. Unfortunately, it had the cracks and drafts to go with it. Heating it with the wood stove was a full-time job, and far more expensive than she planned. But weatherizing made a big difference. Kelsey shared, “It holds heat even during the coldest winter nights, it has great air quality, and feels cozier than before.”
Or Eva, who prioritizes simple living in her Guildhall home. High energy bills were causing her unwanted stress. But weatherization in combination with a new roof helped lower her bills. That in turn helped her stress. She shared, “This gives me comfort and a sense of security regarding heat and fuel.”
Resilient households can better withstand climate changes. If less heated and cooled air escapes, you’ll need less of those fuels to keep your home comfortable. That’s why the Vermont Climate Council prioritized weatherization in its Initial Climate Action Plan.PDF). They named weatherization a core strategy to reduce emissions from buildings with a goal of weatherizing 90,000 more homes by 2030.
An un-weatherized home remains more vulnerable to price fluctuations and natural disasters. In 2022, Efficiency Vermont launched a big incentive increase to help weatherize more Vermont homes. Combined with the increases in fossil fuel and other goods, now is a great time to think about weatherizing.