Energy Efficiency Investments Can Be a Safe Investment Vehicle According to Energy Consultant

Hilton Dier of Renewable Energy Design explains how investments in energy efficiency of your home or business can not only keep up with inflation, but can also provide a return on that investment.

Dier discusses the process of such investments, from an energy assessment (audit) to a retrofit, and then moving on to systems to harness solar energy (electricity and hot water). He outlines the components that contribute to the cost of such investments, and also the potential savings they may produce.

Read the article “This Investment Fits Obama’s Energy Plan and Is Even Safer Than I-Bonds” at:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2013/06/this-investment-fits-obamas-en.html

New Incentives in Orange Cty. For Solar Hot Water Systems

New Incentives in Orange Cty. For Solar Hot Water Systems.

Solar House Party: Check out a Sunward solar hot water system on Saturday, Nov. 17th!

Washington Electric Cooperative member Laura Garand, of Calais, has offered to host a “Solar House Party” at her home on Saturday, November 17, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

A year ago, Laura and her husband Mike took advantage of a promotional offer by Sunward Systems, based in Vergennes, and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. The promotional offer, combined with state and federal incentives, significantly reduced the cost of a solar hot water installation, and the system has further saved the Garands money by reducing their energy costs. Laura Garand estimates that the Sunward/VPIRG promotion reduced their purchase and installation costs by roughly 50 percent.

A very similar promotion is available right now in Washington and Orange counties through the Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative, with an additional $250 discount for Washington Electric Co-op members.  Time is running short for taking advantage of this cost-saving opportunity, and we advise you not to wait until the Garands’ Open House to at least look into it. And then, a visit to their beautiful log home at 2364 Lightening Ridge Road in Calais during their Open House might convince you to pull the trigger and finalize your plans.

Interested participants are encouraged to sign up for a free solar consultation through the WEC website, regardless of whether they are a member or not.  Just go to http://www.washingtonelectric.coop/energy-services-safety/go-solar/ and fill out the simple form.  A representative from Sunward will then be in touch.

EnergySmart Partners with WEC, Sunward to Launch Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative

Contact: Ben Griffin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9/18/12

Phone: 802-395-1388

Email: greenerliving@gmail.com

VERMONT SOLAR HOT WATER INITIATIVE LAUNCHES

Three Local Organizations Partner To Roll Out Solar Program

East Montpelier, VT – Three local organizations have joined together to help Vermonters save money by installing solar hot water systems. Sunward Systems is providing the solar collectors, EnergySmart of Vermont is installing the systems, and Washington Electric Co-op (WEC) is offering a discount to its members who go solar. All residents of Washington and Orange counties will receive $500 off an installed solar system. WEC members will receive $250. The program will move to other areas of Vermont next year.

A typical family of four in Vermont spends $600 per year to heat water for domestic use. The Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative will harness the power of the sun to reduce those costs.

In addition to sales tax-free equipment, savings include a 30% federal tax credit, a Vermont incentive of up to $1200, and discounts of $500 – $750 for Vermonters in Orange and Washington counties through December 31. Other areas of the state will follow. The cumulative savings allow for a solar hot water system to be installed at almost 50% off the typical cost. “Adding a solar hot water system is one of the best ways to make your home more energy efficient and save money. The Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative lowers the costs even further,” said Sunward CEO Thomas Hughes. Sunward is based in Vergennes.

EnergySmart is a social enterprise venture of the Central Vermont Community Action Council (CVCAC). “EnergySmart knows homeowners want the whole package – homes that are tight and comfortable powered by affordable renewable energy. It’s a great fit with our experience in energy renovations. We see a sustainable home as series of interconnected systems, working together to provide comfort and financial security. The Sunward solar hot water systems deliver both in an attractive, economical package,” said Paul Zabriske, General Manager of EnergySmart and also a member of the Washington Electric Cooperative.

WEC was formed in 1939 to bring electricity to rural Vermont communities and to provide its members with a voice in their energy future. WEC General manager Avram Patt feels that the initiative aligns with the cooperative’s commitments to provide energy from clean and renewable sources, and to help its members use energy efficiently and wisely. “The Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative supports several aspects of WEC’s mission. Using energy from the sun helps to minimize the environmental impacts from burning fossil fuels and generating electricity. The program also serves to support and promote our local economy and community organizations,” said Patt.

The Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative is underway and runs through December 31, 2012. To get started, WEC members are encouraged to go to www.washingtonelectric.coop and click on the “Go Solar” link. Vermonters not served by WEC can go to www.GoSunward.com and click the “Free Solar Consultation” link. They can then sign up for a free analysis of their current hot water use, as well as a free solar consultation.

Financing is also available through the VSECU Solar Loan program, www.VSECU.com, which can make the solar hot water systems cash-positive from Day One. For more information, go to www.GoSunward.com or call Sunward toll-free at 1-877-803-2480.

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Energy assessment before heating system replacement

Summer is the season for home improvement projects. One of the projects on many homeowners’ lists is replacing the heating system. You may have old, outdated equipment or you may just want to install a super efficient system to reduce your fuel usage. How do you go about such a large investment? Do you stay with the same fuel, or completely change to something else? Can you reduce the amount of fuel you use to begin with? Find out by getting an energy assessment done on your home BEFORE investing in a heating system. An energy analyst can review your home’s energy bills, run diagnostics, do a visual inspection, and provide recommendations and a prioritized report to guide you through your energy renovation. Tighten up your home first, then your heating system contractor can size a smaller system. It make sense–Reduce the demand for heat, reduce the size of the system. You end up with an efficient, durable, comfortable home. And you can check off one more project on your summer to-do list!

Air-sealing the bottom

Folks who sustained flood damage in the basement and first floor should have a look at the building section below and at this link.

Put together as part of a larger energy efficiency article in Fine Homebuilding magazine, the graphic highlights the points where air leakage occurs and describes solutions to control it before moving ahead with sheet rock or other repairs.

 

A strategy for insulating the basement

After The Flood

The devastation from Tropical Storm Irene will be with us long after the puddles have cleared up. All across the state, people are rebuilding their lives and repairing their homes. This video will give you an idea of the kind of work on hand in just one of many flood-affected towns.

If you are a homeowner or commercial building owner cleaning up after a flood, we want to gently remind you that while your walls are open, there is no better time to invest in air-sealing and insulation upgrades. You will make your building more efficient, affordable and comfortable, and it is so much easier to do this work while the basement is empty and the walls are open.

Once your walls are dry, we are happy to send folks to work with you to strategize improvements that will meet your budget.

Here are some links that might be helpful for flood clean-up:

But know that we are happy to talk to you about your home, and help you figure out the right steps for your individual situation. Just give us a call at 888-583-7110.

 

Hot and Sticky

It’s been super-hot and sticky here in central Vermont (and around the entire Northeast), but it looks like the heat is finally breaking a bit.  That will certainly make it easier on our crews, since it’s pretty tough working in the attic on a 90-degree day!

Attic insulation

Just read this post on Green Building Advisor about what level of insulation is needed in Southern states, like New Orleans. It’s a very interesting discussion, not least because so much of what makes us comfortable (or uncomfortable) is about the level of moisture in the air.

So – I guess that means the old line is true – it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!

 

Keeping Cool

a view of the southern mountains

Vermont summer evening

It’s getting hot here in Vermont! It could get cold again any minute, but in the meantime, we are enjoying the few short weeks of summer. And the heat!

Our friends at Seventh Generation posted some great tips about keeping cool without air conditioning – well worth a read. This is my favorite method:

We also use portable fans. Sometimes we’ll freeze a few water bottles and set them between us and a fan to create a little low-impact air conditioning. It works better than you’d think. So does spritzing skin with water from a spray bottle.

Remember that one of the important benefits of proper air-sealing and insulation is that your house can actually be cooler in the summer – insulation blocks heat gain as well as heat loss. So if your home is just too toasty warm for comfort this July, think about calling EnergySmart!

 

EnergySmart’s Paul Z on TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last night our General Manager Paul Zabriskie was on WCAX-TV’s The 30 with Kristen Carlson, talking about ways to clean up from flood damage and improve energy efficiency while you’re at it.

Watch the video here: Paul Zabriskie on The 30