New Report Reveals How Costs for Driving, Heating and More Burden Vermonters
2023 Energy Burden Report finds communities with lower incomes face high energy burdens
WINOOSKI, VT—More than one out of every ten dollars spent by Vermont households goes to energy, a new report from Efficiency Vermont finds. The 2023 Energy Burden Report maps energy burden across the state, and efficiency programs designed to help Vermonters struggling the most with energy costs. These challenges are important to consider as communities rebuild after the devastating summer floods.
Energy burden is the percentage of household income spent on all energy bills. The report calculates how much Vermonters spend on transportation, heating, and electricity. That calculation demonstrates the impact of energy costs on Vermont families. The 2023 report also looks at energy burden at the census block group level. That gives greater insight into energy burden in Vermont's densely-populated cities and towns.
The average Vermont energy burden is 11 percent. That means Vermont households spend more than $7,000 on energy each year. Other key findings from the new report are:
- Transportation is the largest source of energy spending for Vermonters, accounting for nearly half (45 percent) of all energy costs.
- New data show Vermont households spend more than $3,200 on transportation fuels each year.
- Heating, or thermal energy, accounts for another 35 percent of household energy budgets (more than $2,400 annually), with 20 percent for electricity (about $1,400 annually).
- Some Vermont communities—both in dense urban areas and in rural parts of the state—face energy burdens of 15 percent or greater.
The report finds communities with lower incomes generally face higher energy burdens. This is true in rural areas and the Northeast Kingdom. It’s also true in neighborhoods of cities like Barre, Rutland, St. Johnsbury, Burlington, and Manchester. After this summer's historic flooding, communities with some of the highest energy burdens now face some of the most significant flood damage. That’s true from cities like Barre to towns like Johnson, Coventry, Ludlow, and Londonderry.
“Thousands of Vermont residents and businesses need help rebuilding their homes after the devasting floods,” said Peter Walke, managing director of Efficiency Vermont. “Addressing the energy burden disparities in this report is a matter of equity. Rebuilding to address them is now a matter of climate justice. It’s an issue of rebuilding homes, businesses, apartments, and manufactured homes not just for the cold of the coming winter. But for safety, affordability, and comfort in the coming decades. This report shows how Efficiency Vermont and our partners in utilities, government agencies, and more can better support these efforts.”
The 2023 Energy Burden Report builds on Efficiency Vermont’s 2019 report and its 2016 predecessor. Using data primarily from 2017-2021, it estimates energy spending and identifies communities facing high energy burdens. It also tracks efficiency programs and clean energy technologies that can help reduce costs and energy use. The report finds adoption of efficiency measures like weatherization and technologies like cold climate heat pumps may not yet be reaching the customers with the highest burdens.
“These findings make it clear that we must close the gap in energy projects in Vermont,” said report co-author Kelly Lucci. “Vermonters who stand to benefit the most from the energy and cost savings of these projects and technologies are not necessarily accessing them today.”
Efficiency Vermont uses the findings from energy burden reports to improve its programs. These efforts can help lower Vermonters' energy bills. Past reports helped the organization identify communities for dedicated outreach and enhanced incentives. It has also led to initiatives like zero-interest Home Energy Loans. And programs like on-bill financing for weatherization projects. These measures can help spread out the cost of efficiency upgrades.
View the full report and interactive maps on Efficiency Vermont's 2023 Energy Burden Report page.
About Peter Walke
Peter Walke joined Efficiency Vermont as Managing Director in May 2022. Prior to that, he was the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and deputy secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, where he was Vermont’s lead negotiator for the Transportation Climate Initiative, co-chaired the Vermont Climate Action Commission, and represented the state in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Born and raised in Vermont, Walke returned to his home state after several years working for the State of New York, including as Chief of Staff of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as Assistant Secretary of the Environment. Walke began his career serving in the United States Navy from 2004-2013 as an Intelligence Officer supporting missions in Iraq, Europe, Africa, and for NORAD/U.S. Northern Command. He lives in Montpelier.
About Kelly Lucci
Kelly Lucci is the Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Efficiency Vermont, focusing on developing new partnerships and initiatives. She’s recently worked on making it easier for more Vermonters to weatherize their homes, and served as co-author of the Vermont Energy Burden Report. Prior to joining Efficiency Vermont, she served on the staff of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for six years, focusing on energy and environmental issues. A lifelong Vermonter, Lucci holds a degree in political science from Middlebury College and currently resides in her hometown of Fletcher with her husband and two sons.
About Efficiency Vermont
As the nation’s first Energy Efficiency Utility, Efficiency Vermont has helped Vermont avoid over 13.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and has received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence award for the last eight consecutive years. Efficiency Vermont works with partners to help our state transition to more affordable, low carbon energy use through education, incentives, and support for our clean energy workforce. Learn more at www.efficiencyvermont.com.
Efficiency Vermont Press Contact
Phone: (802) 540-7662