There is a growing call for Vermonters to sign on as eco-warriors as state and federal governments increase investments to grow the number of green jobs and weatherized housing units statewide. Investments in weatherization have shown to actually reduce carbon-based pollution throughout VT and increasing investment levels will help the state to reach the 2025 carbon emissions goals. Primary sources of carbon emissions in the state are the result of the heating and transportation sectors, according to the VT Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Update. Vermont’s Community Action Agencies (VT CAA) play a leading role in ensuring that all state residents have the opportunity to benefit from statewide investment by offering no cost weatherization and efficiency coaching and upgrades to Vermonters whose income level would otherwise restrict their financial capacity to participate. Energy investments through VT CAAs both reduce household costs related to energy use, especially heating costs, and simultaneously allow all community members to play their role in reducing the state’s overall carbon footprint.
Energy efficiency upgrades can be cost-prohibitive to lower-wealth community members, often limiting their participation in community-wide carbon footprint reduction. By creating no-cost funding mechanisms for all community members to participate, Vermont moves toward further reducing emissions within the heating and transportation sectors, which currently represent 70% of the state’s carbon emissions. No-cost weatherization services can include:
- Home energy audits performed by a highly trained energy efficiency auditor who will conduct a comprehensive home audit to determine what can be done to improve energy efficiency in the home.
- A comprehensive plan to weatherize a home that includes air sealing, insulating, duct sealing, improving heating and cooling systems, minor repairs and health and safety improvements.
- Energy efficiency upgrades on electric water heaters, lighting and old appliances in partnership with Efficiency Vermont.
Services result in lower heating bills, increased comfort in the home, increased health and safety, and a smaller carbon footprint and impact on the environment. For community members interested in upgrades yet not eligible for VT CAA no cost weatherization and energy efficiency services, Efficiency Vermont is available to help by providing guidance and offering a variety of financial support which can defray the cost of energy upgrades.
Vermont’s growing investments in the green energy economy continue to result in the addition of more jobs to the green employment sector. For example, most Community Action Agencies operate state-funded weatherization departments statewide and increased funding will result in more Energy Auditors, Energy Efficiency Coaches, and Weatherization Crew Technicians. With commitments of increased funding over the upcoming years from both federal and state sources, at a smaller agency like Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), this can mean as many as four to six new jobs next year. According to SEVCA’s Weatherization Program Director Victor Baisley, “It’s a great day for weatherization and the green economy. Significant funding has been secured for training and hiring in the weatherization sector, and SEVCA hopes to get into as many homes as possible to weatherize those homes and save folks money on their heating bills. Contact SEVCA for employment opportunities!” Crew members in VT and nationwide receive extensive paid training in state-of-the-art weatherization and efficiency modifications. When translated to the home, services provided by weatherization services typically see a 46% reduction in overall home energy use.
Growing weatherization services for all will play a key role in ensuring that Vermont meets the 2025 carbon emissions goals. SEVCA and Community Action Agencies throughout Vermont and nationwide play a critical role in ensuring that all community members are able to access resources which diminish home heating costs while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions. As investments in these weatherization programs continue and increase, expect to see a growing number of jobs in the green economy. Those interested in learning more about no cost weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades for eligible community members can locate their regional Community Action Agency at https://vermontcap.org/. Growing a green economy through energy-efficiency investments is an important part of Vermont’s carbon emissions reduction plan and plays a key role in increasing the state’s green employment sector.
Carolyn Sweet is the Director of Planning and Development for Southeastern Vermont Community Action. In addition to offering no cost weatherization services, SEVCA is also home to Community Solar for Community Action, a solar array project in Vermont which provides energy credits to fifty households in Windham and Windsor Counties, Vermont. The agency offers numerous services to eligible community members. For more information, visit www.sevca.org, https://dcf.vermont.gov/benefits/weatherization,or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.