Bridging gaps, building futures: Weatherization key in future fuel policy

“It is very difficult to cover the expenses now with only one income for a large family. After his death (her partner) and losing the benefit of reduced pricing for fuel since he worked for the dealer, it was impossible to keep the house warm and comfortable. Now, since weatherization, we can be safe and comfortable.”
“What a difference to feel warm and to save on fuel.”
“My ‘Fern Haven’ home is a ’Lil Leaker Survivor of almost 50 years. You are making her a celebrator.”
The above are three different comments by people whose homes have been weatherized by CVOEO. The first is a single mom who relies on propane to heat her home and who suddenly lost her partner. The second is the owner of a mobile home where it was a costly effort to keep warm. The third is a 74-year-old with an old home that by anyone’s standards was an “energy hog.”
The weather this winter has been frightfully cold with frigid air seeping though cracks and unseen openings in older Vermont homes and apartments. As part of the energy equation, short-term financial assistance through Seasonal, Crisis and Warmth support is essential; however, the long-term solutions are found in weatherization which gives warmth and comfort, uses less energy and saves money. Weatherization is the equivalent to donning a hat, mittens, long down coat and new Sorel boots.
Insulation and air sealing are the foundation of weatherization services. The program also places great value on energy savings and efficiencies. An energy audit will reveal any potential problems and improvements. Heating systems will be checked to ensure safety, efficiency and effectiveness. Free lighting and appliance upgrades (when applicable) are accomplished through a partnership with Efficiency Vermont.
The state of Vermont established a Weatherization Trust Fund in 1990 to stabilize funding, infrastructure and technical capacity of Vermont’s Weatherization Services. A Vermont household can realize an energy savings of $600 to $1,900 per year through weatherization. That is far above the national average of $437 a year. For every dollar the state of Vermont invests in weatherization, $2.51 is returned to the household and the community.
Eligible Vermonters with low income are averaging a 37.6 percent energy savings. They save about 270 gallons of No. 2 heating fuel per year for a total savings statewide of 464,940 gallons of fuel.
During the 2011-2012 heating season statewide weatherization programs weatherized 1,802 units of housing for low-income Vermonters. We have 14,850 more to go to meet Vermont’s 2020 energy fitness goal. Meeting that goal will depend on statewide foundational funding level of $12 million.
Even at the current funding level the wait list for weatherization services at CVOEO is approximately 18 months. Call 1-800-545-1084 or go online to start the process to determine eligibility at www.cvoeo.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=dep_menu&menu_id=5033&dept_id=3.
Jarod Kintz said in jest that “sleeping in a tinfoil suit keeps me warmer and helps prepare me for my voyage to the moon.” Traveling to the moon is a long shot but keeping warm in Vermont this winter is a full-time job.

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