Sharing the love, one light at a time
by Lara Bonn, Efficient Products Program Manager
This Valentine's Day, I wanted to talk about something close to my heart: helping all Vermonters—no matter their income—live better through energy efficiency.
Thirty nine percent of Vermont households are considered low-income, and on average they spend roughly 15 percent of their household income on energy. That's more than twice the national average, and it's just too much. One of our goals here at Efficiency Vermont is to assist low-income Vermonters by helping to reduce their energy burdens.
Working together to reduce low-income energy costs
To reach as many people as possible, we've partnered with a number of organizations already working with low-income Vermonters. By working to complement existing services, we're able to minimize costs and reach even more households.
The Vermont Food Bank is one of those partners. Efficiency Vermont sends energy-efficient CFLs directly to the Foodbank's central warehouse. From there, the Foodbank distributes those bulbs across the state; and with roughly 280 partner food shelves and pantries throughout Vermont, their reach is significant. This partnership with the Food Bank allows energy-efficient bulbs to get to those who need them most, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Last year we got 255,253 energy-efficient CFLs into low-income Vermont households. Since the average CFL can last ten times longer than an incandescent bulb, and save over $42 in energy costs, the resulting savings—both for those households and for Vermont in general—add up significantly.
Success in Vermont leads to similar programs across the country
In 2012 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) heard about the success of our Vermont program, and invited Efficiency Vermont to present the specifics as a model to other states. We also presented the idea for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) as part of their summer study. This year the EPA is honoring Efficiency Vermont's low-income outreach services as an Exemplary Program and partnerships like ours are being set up across the United States.
Everyone deserves to love their light
It's important to reach out to those who need extra assistance, but who couldn't use help keeping costs down? Energy-efficient lighting is a great way to do that, but we've heard from Vermonters that when it comes to finding the right light bulb, the number and variety of bulbs on the market can be confusing. That's why we've got some great resources on the Efficiency Vermont website, including a new interactive tool and a video designed to help every Vermonter choose lighting they'll love that's easy on their eyes and their energy bills, too.
Check out the tool, then let us know what lighting you love this Valentine's Day—and while you're at it, enter to win a "Love Your Light" bulb package for your home, courtesy of Efficiency Vermont. The prize includes three spiral CFLs and three LED bulbs, for a value of $70.