by Robyn King
Fall in Vermont is iconic for its beauty. For those of us fortunate enough to live here, it’s also a reminder of the long, cold winter that’s around the corner. So when our thoughts turn to improving our indoor spaces at home, weatherization should be on our to-do list.
Buttoning up your home for winter delivers many benefits. Saving energy means saving money, increasing the health and comfort of your home, and reducing your carbon footprint by minimizing the need to burn fossil fuels for heat.
For those ready to make more substantial improvements, a comprehensive air sealing and insulation project may be the next step. Here are three steps to take to complete a home weatherization project and reap the benefits for years to come.
Low-income Vermonters are eligible for free weatherization services through your local weatherization agency, such as Capstone Community Action in Barre.
Find a Qualified Contractor
It is important to hire a contractor that is trained and certified through the Building Performance Institute, an independent, not-for-profit organization that sets national standards for residential energy efficiency and weatherization retrofit work.
This certification means your contractor will be knowledgeable about building science, and they will take a whole-building approach to weatherization. They will look at how to maximize energy savings, boost your comfort, and keep your home safe and healthy. In addition to adding air sealing and insulation to tighten up your home, they’ll make sure to avoid moisture problems and keep indoor air healthy.
Only Building Performance certified contractors can be part of Efficiency Vermont’s Efficiency Excellence Network weatherization group and get access to rebates through Efficiency Vermont.
Prioritize Which Improvements Make Sense for You
Your contractor will perform a home energy assessment. This will show them the most important areas of energy performance improvements. The contractor will complete a blower-door test to understand how air is leaking out of your home.
After the visit, they’ll provide you with a list of actions you can take. You and your contractor should discuss how those actions will help save energy and improve the comfort, health, and safety of your home.
Once you decide on which pieces of the project to move forward with, your contractor can help you apply for available incentives and financing through Efficiency Vermont.
Budgeting for Weatherization
Your decision about what actions to move forward with will probably involve looking at your budget. While weatherization can save you money on your energy bills for years to come, you’ll still need to consider how the cost of the project can fit in with other expenses.
Consider breaking the cost into monthly payments rather than covering the entire cost upfront. Reducing the upfront cost will help you feel the benefits on your fuel bills more quickly. Looking at the costs, benefits, and incentives will help you make an informed decision about what is best for your household.
Efficiency Vermont offers incentives that can bring down the upfront cost.
Interested in a More Hands-on Approach?
If you’re one of many Vermonters who likes to tackle home improvement projects on the weekend, there may be some energy efficiency work you can do yourself.
Efficiency Vermont offers a list of simple but impactful DIY projects and a rebate to help you cover the cost of materials. While these projects may not generate any noticeable energy savings, they can help you feel more comfortable in your home.
Find out more about DIY projects such as air sealing around common leaky spots, insulating your attic and attic hatch, installing storm windows, and more.
You can always call Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 if you’re not sure about the best way to move forward with your project.
Take the First Step with a Free Energy Savings Kit
For the easiest, lowest-cost step you can take right now, order an Energy Savings Kit from Efficiency Vermont.
“Reducing our homes’ carbon footprint doesn’t happen overnight — it’s a journey of many steps,” said Carol Weston, director of Efficiency Vermont. “The most important step is the first one, and we hope Vermonters will start their journey by taking advantage of our free Energy Savings Kit.”
The kits can be ordered at efficiencyvermont.com/kits by customers who haven’t already received one. More ideas on how to ‘outsmart winter’ are available at buttonupvermont.org.
Robyn King is the Existing Homes Program Manager at Efficiency Vermont, where she focuses on enabling Vermonters to access resources to make their homes more comfortable, energy efficient, and healthy. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at (888) 921-5990 or efficiencyvermont.com