New incentives make weatherization more affordable, accessible for moderate-income families

Burlington, VT

New funding and streamlined programs mean that for most Vermont households, $60 per month will pay for a comprehensive home weatherization project that will lower heating and cooling costs and make their homes more comfortable year-round. Moderate-income Vermonters who have long thought a comprehensive home weatherization project was too expensive for their budget now have reason to think again and take action.

Efficiency Vermont today announced its plans for deploying an additional $2.6 million in available funding to make weatherization projects more accessible and affordable to moderate-income families. Efficiency Vermont hopes to double the number of Vermonters who enroll in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program and weatherize their homes by the end of 2020, saving families money and reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 750 tons a year. 

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program provides incentives for customers who work with qualified contractors — members of the Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN) — to complete comprehensive projects to improve insulation, air sealing, and ventilation systems. The average project can save $500 a year in home heating and cooling savings for homes heated with oil. 

“Comprehensive air sealing and insulation projects are the most cost-effective way to reduce heating and cooling costs, but the relatively high upfront cost of these projects — often several thousand dollars — has been a deterrent for many Vermonters who would like to participate,” said Efficiency Vermont Director Rebecca Foster. “With help from our partners, especially lenders and building contractors, we’re looking to knock those barriers down. For moderate-income Vermonters in particular, there has never been a better time to move forward with a project.” 

Approximately 60 percent of Vermont families fall into the moderate-income range. Moderate income, for the purposes of the program, is defined as total household income that falls between 80-120 percent of area median income (AMI). Income limits vary based on county of residence. 

“We have never seen anything close to this level of financial support available to Vermonters for comprehensive weatherization projects; it’s a tremendous opportunity for our members and customers to make their homes more comfortable, use less fossil fuel, and save money on heating and cooling,” said Brian Gray, Energy Co-Op of Vermont General Manager. “This news is sure to increase demand for participating contractors across the state, and our advice to homeowners is to act soon if they want to complete a project before winter. Energy Co-Op of Vermont is one of about 40 contractors in the Efficiency Excellence Network ready to help.” 

Vermont Gas Services (VGS) has also announced that it will support the same incentives for any of their customers who opt to participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. “VGS is committed to giving our customers the tools they need to reduce their energy needs today. We are excited to once again partner with Efficiency Vermont to make sure all Vermonters have access to programs that will help them manage their heating costs,” said Lauren Grimley, VGS Energy Efficiency Manager.

Higher incentives and simpler structure

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program is now based on project cost instead of incremental energy savings. While the cost of a project varies greatly based on the size, age, and condition of the house, the majority of projects cost less than $8,000. Moderate-income households will now receive 50 percent of their project costs back, up to $4,000, or up to $2,000 for higher-income households. Previously, average incentives for this program were $1,300. 

Free financing

Qualified customers can also obtain zero-interest financing through Efficiency Vermont’s Heat Saver Loan. Qualifying Vermonters will now be able to complete a comprehensive weatherization project for around $60 a month. Monthly payments could be even less for borrowers who choose a longer loan term. 

Attic and basement rebates

Customers who don’t wish to work with an Efficiency Excellence Network contractor can still receive rebates for air sealing and insulating their attic or basement. For moderate income customers, a $500 incentive is available per area, up to $1,000. Higher income households are eligible for a $250 incentive per area, up to $500. 

All of the incentives announced today will be available until the end of 2020, or while funding lasts. Incentive levels may be subject to change depending on customer demand. The program changes are effective immediately and will be retroactively applied to projects completed after July 1. Efficiency Vermont’s marketing campaign promoting the program changes will begin late summer as the heating season approaches and the statewide Button Up Vermont weatherization awareness campaign gears up. 

Burlington customers served by Vermont Gas Systems (VGS) are also eligible for increased incentives through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. Those customers in Burlington without VGS service should contact Burlington Electric Department for more information about available offers.

About Efficiency Vermont

Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and is regulated by the Vermont Public Utility Commission to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont's environment. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 or visit www.efficiencyvermont.com

Efficiency Vermont
Jeff Buell
Phone: (802) 540-7662
jbuell@veic.org