Helping Vermonters reduce their heating costs through data-driven program design

by Nancy Gamble, Strategic Planning Manager

It’s not always easy to step back from our day to day work and look at the big picture. We have some great stories from customers who have worked with contractors and Efficiency Vermont to tighten up their homes – but it can be tough to figure out how to help more Vermonters take the same steps.

Efficiency Vermont is a utility, which means we are regulated just like your electric company; we have to report on the impact of our programs, and verify that they are generating real reductions in energy usage.

It also means that homeowners who work with us to tighten up their homes are able to access a statewide network of BPI-certified contractors, who have been trained and mentored by Efficiency Vermont Energy Consultants. The contractors collect baseline information on how energy-efficient a home is before they do any work – and again to demonstrate savings results once a project has been completed. Efficiency Vermont then offers to pay back a portion of the cost of energy projects to the homeowner – up to $2,000 – depending on how much energy a home is likely to save. The more you do, the more you get!

Audits into savings: what we’ve learned

To help find some answers on what motivates Vermonters to get energy audits for their homes, and what helps them turn the findings from those audits into savings on their energy bills, we turned to the data.

Here are a few highlights of what we learned:

  • Vermonters are definitely motivated to reduce their heating costs: There has been a 377% increase in the number of customers working with Efficiency Vermont’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR ® program over the last five years.
  • Statewide marketing and promotion help keep energy savings top of mind for Vermonters, and encourage them to get energy audits: When Efficiency Vermont runs those television commercials, our customer support team gets a LOT more calls.
  • Once Vermonters see how their home is losing energy, they care about the bottom line: Higher payments from Efficiency Vermont – and especially limited-time bonus incentives – are a very effective way to help turn energy audits into completed projects, and real energy savings.

Interested in learning more? Check out our complete analysis and results – and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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