By Bob Walker
In 2013 the Thetford Energy Committee wanted to develop a program to assist those whose homes were in need of weatherization, but who could not afford it and did not qualify for Vermont’s free Weatherization Assistance Program. . Here is a report on the steps we took to help one Thetford homeowner.
We decided to create a Volunteer Assisted Weatherization (VAW) program that would use grant money to pay for materials and a Home Performance with Energy Star contractor to:
- Do test-in and test-out Home Performance with Energy Star assessments
- Develop a work scope and materials list
- Train and oversee, as needed, a team of skilled volunteers installing the measures
- Submit a final Home Performance report to Efficiency Vermont
We got approval from Efficiency Vermont that work done through this initiative would qualify for financial incentives through the Do-It-Yourself track of the Home Performance with Energy Star program. Incentives from the improvements were redirected into the Thetford VAW Fund for future jobs.
We worked with Capstone Community Action (formerly Central Vermont Community Action Council) to establish income guidelines for qualifying to participate in the program and then sought participants in the program through the local churches, food shelf and Capstone. We had two candidates for this first pilot outreach effort and ultimately chose to work on the home of Lorraine Carbino in Thetford Center, Vermont.
We recruited 11 skilled carpenters and weatherization contractors who contributed 107 hours picking up materials, preparing the site and installing improvements. . Improvements installed include:
- Foam board on the kneewalls, foundation walls and rim joists
- Plexiglass (acrylic plastic glazing) interior storms over basement windows
- Sealing air leaks in the basement, attic and hot air ducts
- Properly venting the clothes dryer
This fall, volunteers built and installed interior storm windows to reduce air leakage and increase R-value in five poorly performing windows.
The labor and materials costs for this work, paid for by grants from the Vermont Community Foundation and Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, totaled $2,770. Efficiency Vermont paid $970 in incentives, so the net cost of the job was $1,800.
The audit test-out report determined that these efforts reduced air leakage in the house by just over 10% and will reduce energy use by more than 21%, saving Lorraine an estimated $488.50 on her fuel bills annually. So energy savings will pay for the cost of improvements in less than four years and the house will be much more comfortable. In addition, the reduced fuel use will cut CO2 emissions by an estimated 2,800 lbs. per year. .
After reviewing the results and getting feedback from participants, the Thetford Energy Committee and Select Board have decided to repeat the effort going forward. In order to make the program more sustainable, we are teaming up with the Ompompanoosuc Community Trust, a Thetford non-profit, which will solicit tax-deductible charitable donations from Thetford residents and businesses to support future VAW jobs. .
We are hoping other Energy Committees throughout the state might replicate this model program to help weatherize homes of those in need. To view more photos of the project, go to http://www.thetfordvermont.us/departments/energy-committee/ For more details and information on how to replicate this effort, contact TEC chair, Bob Walker at 802-785-4126 or bwalker@SERG-info.org.
The Thetford Energy Committee would like to thank everyone who helped make this such a successful effort.
Bob Walker is chair of the Thetford Energy Committee and executive director of Sustainable Energy Resource Group.