The Mountain Times

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Governor launches home energy challenge

Year-long sprint set to help Vermonters reduce their heating bills

On Feb. 21, Gov. Peter Shumlin officially kicked off an effort that has the potential to save Vermonters more than $2.6 million on their heating bills over the next year. Appearing at a home that has seen a significant reduction in heating oil usage, the Governor highlighted the benefits of energy efficiency to Vermont's economy and congratulated the 75 towns that have so far signed on to the Vermont Home Energy Challenge.

"Dollar for dollar, we know that energy efficiency is one of the best investments there is," said Gov. Shumlin. "It cuts energy bills, keeps more money in our state's economy, and creates jobs for builders and contractors around the state. That's a great story for Vermonters to share with their friends and neighbors as they mobilize for the 2013 Home Energy Challenge."

The Challenge is being spearheaded by Efficiency Vermont, in partnership with the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN).  It is designed to help the state meet its energy and climate goals by making homes more energy efficient. 75 local energy groups have signed up to lead grassroots efforts in their communities to encourage friends and neighbors to weatherize their homes through Efficiency Vermont's Home Performance with Energy Star program.

Over the course of the year, participants will be able to measure their progress and that of other towns throughout the state in an effort to improve the efficiency of more than 3,500 homes and save more than $2.6 million in heating costs every year. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions that is the equivalent of taking more than 1,300 cars off the road, and it will save enough energy to heat more than 650 homes for an entire year.

"Time and again, we have seen that even small actions on energy efficiency can add up to a big impact. In fact, over the last decade our state has saved enough electricity to power every home in the state for more than two years," said Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont. "With the Home Energy Challenge, we'll be working with local energy committees to develop new tools for engaging communities, and keep adding to Vermont's impressive results."

The last five years have seen a burst of interest in local efforts on sustainable energy, and there are now energy committees or energy coordinators in more than half of Vermont's towns. "There is no question that our small state is a leader on community energy initiatives and grassroots engagement," said Johanna Miller, Coordinator of VECAN and Energy Program Director with the Vermont Natural Resources Council. "We are really excited about the Challenge's potential to put even more momentum behind those efforts, and, importantly, help Vermonters stop wasting heat and money."

To learn more about the Challenge, take a pledge to reduce energy usage in your home, or see how your community is doing in meeting its goals, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeenergychallenge.