Energy efficiency retrofit discussion
What would you do to retrofit your house for energy efficiency? I live in Vermont and there is currently an initiative to encourage homeowners to do this.
Year-long Effort will aim to Increase the number of Homes Completing Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Improvements
Burlington, VT – Beginning in January 2013, Efficiency Vermont will launch a year-long effort designed to encourage more Vermonters to make their homes more energy efficient. Starting from today through the end of the year, town energy committees and other local groups throughout the state can sign their communities up to participate in the “Vermont Home Energy Challenge.”
Under the Challenge, which is being promoted in partnership with the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) and other organizations throughout the state, towns will set a target of weatherizing 3% of the homes in their community over the course of a year and fostering more public awareness and engagement in energy efficiency efforts. They can then measure their progress toward this goal along with that of other communities in their region and across the state. At the end of the year, towns, regions, and local partners will be recognized for the effectiveness of their efforts to encourage participation in their communities.
“The Home Energy Challenge is designed to build on the focus and enthusiasm of community groups that are engaging with their friends and neighbors around energy issues every day,” said Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont. “Over the course of 2013 – and beyond – we will continue to seek innovative ways to support these efforts, and we are hoping that the Challenge will help inspire even more action to increase energy efficiency at the local level.”
I consider myself a "conserver" and am pretty well aware of basic energy-efficiency measures, but I am nowhere near being an energy wonk. I had a comprehensive home audit done (for free) through this program earlier this week, and I'm eager to hear the auditor's recommendations. I'm also working with a local consultant who helps people figure out how to do cost-effective (cash-positive) retrofits. Without the auditor's report, we've at least been discussing various types of insulation and the possibility of solar hot water. He takes his fee as a percentage of the project cost, and if there is no project, there is no fee owed. So this part of the process is risk-free to me.
One thing I am struggling with – and I would greatly appreciate it if group members would weigh in on this – is that I am not in a position to pay outright for this work. I will have to borrow money to make it possible. There is some state money available and there are low-interest, guaranteed loans even for low-income people to use for this purpose, but the idea of going into debt at this point in the economic game gives me pause. And yet, if the monthly payment fits within what I am currently spending for utilities (due to lower energy use as the result of the retrofit), and with utilities prices undoubtedly on the rise, I find it very compelling to consider taking a loan to do work that will keep my energy use as low as possible going forward.
As my friend says, this type of work makes the difference between my house being an energy "guzzler" and a "sipper." Though we are certainly not in "guzzler" range anymore due to deliberately chosen lifestyle changes. I have the advantage of planning to stay in this house for good, with no anticipated reason to move (ever), so permanent changes here will be a lifetime investment.
I realize all homes are different, but I would be interested in hearing what others here would do – or perhaps are already planning to do – in terms of an energy retrofit for your home.
I'd love it if we could discuss this. Also, are other states providing incentives and initiatives to get more homeowners moving toward energy-efficiency?