What does it mean to “Weatherize” my home?

Lower Energy Bills  |  Increased Comfort  |  Healthier Home

Work Scope – Most weatherization projects focus on air sealing and insulation, the two most cost effective ways to increase comfort and reduce energy costs. Start with your attic and/or basement where most heat loss and air leakage occurs. Those spaces also tend to be unfinished, allowing for easier and more affordable improvements.

The suggested work scope you receive from your contractor will contain many improvement opportunities. If you can’t afford to tackle everything at once, your contractor can help you prioritize and choose a final work scope that meets your needs.

Your weatherization project will include:

  1. Energy efficiency improvements as agreed upon between you and your contractor
  2. Any necessary health and safety improvements
  3. All required tests/diagnostics to qualify you for any available rebates

Benefits of a Whole Home Approach – All weatherization projects should be completed by a Building Performance Institute certified contractor. All Weatherize contractors are BPI certified and approved by Efficiency Vermont to provide weatherization services through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

BPI contractors are trained to take a whole-home approach to improving your home’s efficiency, comfort, health, and safety. For example, your BPI contractor can:

  • Test your combustion appliances to ensure toxic gases are vented properly
  • Ensure you have plenty of ventilation and fresh air even after your air sealing improvements are completed
  • Reduce moisture, mold, and drafts that contribute to poor air quality
  • Help eliminate ice dams and other issues related to heat loss
  • Help your home stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer
  • Reduce your energy costs (average savings of 20-25%)

Cost, Rebates, and Financing

Every home is different. Project cost may vary from less than $5,000 to more than $12,000 depending on your home and your budget. Efficiency Vermont offers up to $2,000 in rebates for weatherization improvements, plus $500 if you also upgrade your heating system. Your contractor will take care of the paperwork for you.

Low cost financing is also available. Many lenders offer secured and unsecured loans designed specifically for borrowers investing in home energy improvements.

General Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Many lending institutions offer loans specifically designed for energy-related projects, like home energy upgrades or solar installations. Just ask about “energy” or “green” loans. These tend to be traditional lending options with certain perks (e.g. better rate, longer term).
  • Customers must meet credit and income requirements to be eligible for any loan. In some cases, the interest rate and term depend on customer credit, amount borrowed, and other factors.
  • Visit potential lenders’ websites to get more information or, in some cases, begin the loan application process online.
  • Be sure to speak with a knowledgeable loan adviser about your specific situation to determine what financing options make the most sense for you.
  • Because the appropriate loan type often depends on the amount being borrowed, it is helpful to have a cost estimate from a contractor prior to seeking approval for financing. Your energy audit will include cost estimates, and you contractor can help you narrow your project scope if you need to stick to a budget.
  • In sharing general information about specific lending institutions, Net Zero Montpelier is in no way endorsing or recommending particular financing partners or products. As with any contract you may enter into, we urge you to read and understand the “fine print” and seek expert advice as necessary.
  • Talk with your contractor about financing options. They have helped other customers through the process and can likely answer some of your questions as well.

Financing Options

Vermont HeatSaver Loan – Available to ALL Vermonters. Low interest loans of up to $35,000 with 100% financing available. Can be processed in as little as two business days. Interest rates between 0.99% and 5.99% (depending on income and loan term). Loan terms up to 15 years. Available through Efficiency Vermont and serviced through VSECU and Opportunities Credit Union. Funds may be used to finance energy efficiency improvements and necessary health and safety improvements. Qualifying improvements include heat pumps, efficient heating systems and hot water heaters, air sealing, insulation, renewables, and more.

To learn more or apply, visit: EfficiencyVermont.com/Services/Financing/Homes/Heat-Saver-Loan

Northfield Savings Bank – A mutually owned Vermont bank donating 10% of profits to community organizations.

Home Equity Energy Improvement Loan & Energy Improvement Loan – 6-year, fixed rate loans up to $10,000 at varying rates (as low as 3.5%). No closing cost. We have done loans as low as $5,000 on this product.

To learn more or apply, click here to visit their website or call 800.NSB.CASH

Vermont State Employees Credit Union – Anyone who lives or works in Vermont can become a member. (You need not be a state employee)

HeatSaver Loan – See above

VGreen Program – Many available options for energy-related purchases/projects, some of which are listed below.

To learn more or apply, visit VSECU.com/Financial/Clean-Energy-Loans

Heat Squad – A program of Neighborworks of Western Vermont

Heat Squad Energy Loan – Rates as low as 4.99%, 5-10 year terms. Loan amount based on the customer’s audit report. Qualifying improvements include weatherization, efficient heating systems, renewables, roofing and siding, exterior doors, foundation improvements, health and safety measures, and other items that improve energy efficiency.

To learn more and apply, visit HeatSquad.org/Energy-Loan

Programs for Low-Income Residents

Here in Montpelier, Capstone Community Action's Weatherization Assistance Program offers FREE energy assessments and weatherization for income-eligible residents.

Capstone provides weatherization services free of charge to central Vermonters who meet income and other qualifications. Trained professionals will review the problem areas in your home and identify the most cost-effective steps that can be taken to increase comfort, reduce heat loss, and ensure safety.

If your household qualifies, you'll receive:

  • An energy audit to identify potential improvements in energy efficiency and comfort
  • Free lighting and appliance upgrades (where applicable) from Efficiency Vermont
  • Renovation construction services from a qualified crew, including materials and supplies.

Recipients typically see a significant reduction in their home heating bills.

Check your eligibility: http://dcf.vermont.gov/sites/dcf/files/OEO/Docs/Wx-Income-Guidelines.pdf

Learn more and fill out an application: http://capstonevt.org/weatherization/weatherization-and-energy-efficiency-services

Resources for Renters and Landlords

There are many low-cost improvements a renter can install to increase the efficiency of their home. Here is a guide for renters seeking to save energy and stay warm this winter, compiled by Efficiency Vermont.

If you’re a landlord of a multifamily building (5 units and higher) planning to do major renovations and looking to save more than what standard Weatherization can offer, contact 3E Thermal. 3E Thermal is an unbiased consultant for improving the performance of your buildings — reducing maintenance, increasing durability, and lowering turnover. For owners of affordable apartment buildings throughout Vermont, their services cost nothing — and bring cash incentives to help you get the biggest impact from your projects. They start at the design stage and help identify the most effective solutions within your budget and work scope. Then they follow up with regular site visits during construction to ensure quality and effectiveness.