• ‘Hot’ competition looks to save energy
    By
     | February 22,2013
     
    Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff File Photo

    Zach Green, of Northfield, caulks around a new insulated basement door during a weatherization project at a Williamstown home. A statewide challenge asks homeowners to commit to taking energy-efficiency measures this year.

    MONTPELIER — Rob Apple’s multistory home built in the 1850s had major heating losses until a few years ago.

    Apple said he has saved about 20 percent on his heating oil bill each year due to weatherization improvements from 2010 or 2011, which included adding insulation like cellulose between the second floor and attic and putting foam on his basement walls.

    “The air coming out of my basement was basically sifting through the house ... and there were considerable opportunities to tighten up the place,” he said Thursday, standing in his Winter Street home with Gov. Peter Shumlin to advocate for a new initiative for other Vermonters.

    If a statewide energy assistance service, Efficiency Vermont, has its way, more than 3,500 homes across the state will follow suit in the Home Energy Challenge. The initiative calls for people to pledge to make improvements this year, such as using energy-efficient light bulbs or a programmable thermostat.

    Towns can compete with others in their region to see which can achieve the highest percentage of homes weatherized this year.

    The state is trying to meet a goal of weatherizing 80,000 homes by 2020 to improve energy efficiency. Last year, 1,000 households underwent weatherization projects, Efficiency Vermont officials said. To meet the goal, 5,000 homes need to be weatherized annually, the officials said.

    Vermont’s Weatherization Program pays for such improvements for households whose income is up to 60 percent of the median. Kelly Lucci, a spokeswoman for Efficiency Vermont, which is run by the nonprofit Vermont Energy Investment Corp., said the program has a waiting list of more than a year.

    Apple received a rebate on some of the improvements he made but said he still had to “bite the bullet” and spend close to $8,000. He said the investment probably will be returned in about five or six years.

    To participate in the Home Energy Challenge, go to efficiencyvermont.com/action or call 888-921-5990.

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    david.taube @timesargus.com

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