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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Challenge Accepted: A Look Back At The 2013 Home Energy Challenge

Amy Kolb Noyes
Participation in the Vermont Home Energy Challenge could be as simple as switching to compact florescent light bulbs.

The resultsare in for the 2013 Vermont Home Energy Challenge. The challenge was a year-long effort by Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network. Town energy committees signed on and competed against neighboring towns for the distinction of having the most home energy efficiency projects completed, by percentage of the population.

VHEC was designed to test the premise that a large scale community engagement effort can drive completion of retrofit jobs, and raise the level of awareness of energy efficiency.

Seventy-nine communities signed up for the challenge, representing about half the state's population. A newly released final report on the project explains:

Towns were divided into six regions throughout the state wherein participating towns competed against other towns in their region to encourage residents to commit to improving efficiency and to getting their homes weatherized. Participating towns were asked to weatherize three percent of the year-round residences in their towns for the calendar year 2013. This three percent number was directly linked to the percentage of homes that need to be weatherized on an annual basis in order for Vermont to meet its statewide energy goals.

According to Efficiency Vermont's report, "the Vermont Home Energy Challenge was a state-wide effort to test the premise that community engagement efforts could encourage more Vermonters to complete comprehensive home energy efficiency improvements, and raise the level of general awareness about home energy efficiency." The report states:

Towns that achieved the highest percentage of year-round homes weatherized within their region received a financial reward. In addition, towns that achieved the highest percentage of residents committing to improving efficiency in their homes were also awarded.

Individual commitments came by way of pledge cards. Signers of the cards pledge to improve the energy efficiency of their homes by swapping out light bulbs, switching to low flow water faucets, weather stripping doors and windows, turning down thermostats, or taking on a bigger project. A state-wide total of 1,512 pledge cards were turned in to Efficiency Vermont. One-quarter of those included commitments to take on a comprehensive energy-saving home improvement project.

The towns with the highest percentage of year-round homes weatherized within their region earned $10,000 to be applied toward a municipal energy efficiency project. The winning towns are:

  • Region One – Underhill and Jericho (tied)
  • Region Two – Weybridge
  • Region Three – Mount Holly
  • Region Four – Putney
  • Region Five – Strafford
  • Region Six – Plainfield

In addition, towns collecting the most pledge cards per region won $500 toward a community energy celebration. Towns winning that prize are:

  • Region One – Franklin
  • Region Two – Weybridge
  • Region Three – Mount Holly
  • Region Four – Dummerston
  • Region Five – Thetford
  • Region Six – Plainfield

Efficiency Vermont's final report on the challenge concluded:

In testing the premise that a statewide engagement effort could drive general awareness of energy efficiency, and completion of comprehensive home efficiency projects, VHEC did show some promising results. In towns where residents were already primed to be receptive to energy and sustainability messages, or where there had been a history of local energy action, it appears that VHEC did make a difference. The action being requested of homeowners requires a significant commitment of time and financial resources, and in consequence the full results of VHEC may not be fully apparent until additional time has passed.

Efficiency Vermont said it will continue to track project completion data to see how many pledged home energy improvement projects are undertaken in the years to come. Vermont has set a statewide goal to achieve 25 percent energy savings in 80,000 homes by the year 2020.

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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