State unveils new home energy efficiency programs

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(Host) Several new programs have been launched this week to help Vermonters reduce their home energy bills.

One program is designed to help homeowners better understand which energy efficiency measures have the greatest payback.

Another initiative will make low-interest loans available to help homeowners finance these projects.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) State officials say if there’s a silver lining in the dramatic rise in energy costs, it’s the new focus the higher prices have placed on energy efficiency and conservation programs.

Button Up Vermont is an organization that’s sponsoring workshops in 100 communities across the state over the next few weeks.

Program coordinator Paul Markowitz says the goal of the plan is to present homeowners with the latest information about energy efficiency measures and the potential savings associated with these initiatives.

(Markowitz) “There is no better investment for your money than saving money in your home. And most Vermont homes can save easily 20% or more of their energy bill."

(Kinzel) Markowitz says the workshops will also address some of the myths surrounding the efficiency of some home energy projects.

(Markowitz) “Like replacing your windows. Replacing your windows is a very poor energy investment. For saving energy, plugging the holes in your attic and the leaks in your basement is one of the most cost effective things you can do, dollar for dollar. So part of what we want to do is get this message across. How do homes lose heat and what are the most cost effective ways for saving them?"

(Kinzel) A new low-interest loan program has just been announced for homeowners who want to weatherize their homes or install new energy efficiency measures.

Blair Hamilton is the director of Efficiency Vermont.  He says the loans are a cost-effective way to pay for energy projects.

(Hamilton) “The payback on energy investments has really gotten a whole lot better as energy prices have gone up. There’s that much more to save cost effectively, so the availability of attractive loans to finance energy improvements becomes a way they can really pay for themselves over time."

(Kinzel) Five-year loans of up to $5,000 will be available from TD Banknorth at the beginning of next month.

It’s likely that the rate for these loans will be less than 4 percent.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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