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Archive for the ‘Free Home Energy Check Up’ Category

How to Get Off the Oil Price Roller Coaster

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

If we’ve learned anything in the first 16 years of the 21st century, it’s that expecting the unexpected is the best way to plan for the future.

If that sounds a little scary, let’s consider heating oil prices. Who would have guessed two years ago when prices were heading towards $4.00 a gallon that we’d now be looking at prices averaging just over $2.00? As a fuel oil dealer, we welcome the budget relief that low prices offer customers, but want to be sure we (and our customers) think a bit about some of the challenges that this extreme volatility can bring.

Source: Tradingeconomics.com

In Vermont, the good news is that fuel prices are currently averaging 19¢ a gallon below the same month of 2015. The bad news is that we’ve seen a steady price increase since March.

Source - Vermont Fuel Price Report, Vermont Department of Public Service

It’s easy to point to several factors that could affect heating fuel prices as we get closer to the cold winter weather:

  • Some weather experts are predicting the that end of the strongest El Nino in recorded history has started to make a transition into a La Nina-like state which could mean colder than average temperatures and more snow in the Northeast this winter. This is a welcome relief for those Vermonters that depend on the snow for recreation or livelihood, but a potential problem for those of us who will use more heating oil.
  • The presidential candidates have adopted different positions for and against climate change action that could eventually trickle down to affect gasoline and heating oil prices.
  • A recent New York Times article quotes OPEC sources who are speculating that a global output freeze could take place in September, when most members, plus non-members such as Russia, are expected to attend an International Energy Forum meeting in Algeria.

What can we do now to help protect our household budgets from future price increases? To use a sports metaphor, “our best defense is a good offense.”

  1. Do everything you can to improve your home’s energy efficiency and reduce the amount of heating fuel you use. Even simple things like adding insulation and regular heating system tune ups can make a big difference.
  2. Consider harnessing renewable energy sources to heat your home and provide your hot water. Rooftop or in-ground solar along with a cold-climate heat pump is a great choice that is becoming more and more popular.
  3. Sign up for price protection to lock in today’s low prices for the rest of the season. Combine this with a budget payment plan and you’ll eliminate those nasty mid-winter surprises when your oil usage spikes during a cold snap.

At the Energy Co-op, our goal is to help our members use less fossil fuel and save money. Don’t let the fuel price roller coaster leave you at the station. Call us today for a free home energy review or to schedule your pre-winter system tune up.

 

Winter Heating Tips: Attic Heat Loss

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

It may be obvious to some but many folks don’t realize just how much heat they lose through their attics. Poor attic insulation and sealing can result not only in higher energy costs during the winter, but also during the hot summer months when you’re trying to keep your home cool. For this reason, how your attic is constructed  and insulated is the most important part of saving huge amounts of money on energy bills year round.

As warm air pushes up to the top of your home it allows colder air to be pulled in from below from your basement, leaky windows, or just poorly insulated walls. As the warm air leaves it heats and melts snow on your roof, creating icicles and ice dams in the eaves. Since there’s very little heat along the eaves of your roof, the melted snow refreezes. Icicles and ice dams are the most obvious sign that you’re losing heat out of your attic and that better insulation could keep you more comfortable AND save you energy dollars. These are what are typically called, “shell improvements” in the energy business, and represent the easiest way Vermonters can make a significant impact on their home energy efficiency.

The first and easiest step is to figure out exactly just how much heat you’re losing through an energy audit for your home. We have an established step-by-step system beginning with some simple math and ending with a comprehensive plan that allows you to decide how best to proceed. Our Energy Audit will tell you exactly how efficiently your home is, where improvements should be made, and recommend some simple steps you can reduce your energy use and save money on your fuel bills. Some of these improvements you may want to make right away, while others would be better to hold off for the future. We also will help you choose the right contractor to make energy upgrades to your home.

Whatever you choose to do, with each season that goes by know that the earlier you make an investment in your home’s efficiency the more money you’ll save. As a first step, we can help you decide whether an Energy Audit makes sense for your home, with only TWO pieces of information from you:

  • Total heated area of your home (square feet)
  • The amount of heating fuel you use each year (oil, kerosene, pellets, etc.)

With this information we can quickly figure out whether an energy audit makes sense for your home. Give us a call! (802) 860-4090.

Here’s a great (short) video of what attic heat loss and necessary improvements looks like:

Better together

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Most of us in the northerly reaches of the country are always looking for ways to save money on our fuel and energy bills, especially during days like today (high of 16 degrees?). The Co-op has joined a partnership with Efficiency Vermont and fuel dealers statewide to help Vermonters do just that. Now, fuel dealers like the Energy Co-op and efficiency contractors will be working together in the Efficiency Excellence Network to save homeowners money on their fuel and energy bills.

Co-op members Herb and Barbara Kessel provided their home as a backdrop for the press conference earlier this month, highlighting the launch of the new Efficiency Excellence Network and we couldn’t be more proud.

The Kessels were able to reduce their oil consumption by at least 300 gallons per year, over the past two years. They also jumped on board the heat pump wagon purchasing four of the energy efficient heating and cooling systems strategically placed around their home. Combined with the air sealing done throughout the house, Herb and Barbara expect to see even larger savings by the time the final calculations are made after their next oil delivery in six or seven months.

Some folks have asked why fuel dealers would want this sort of arrangement as it would clearly result in less profit for their businesses. But we, and others, understand the value of our relationship with our customers and members. Our goal is to keep helping homeowners here in Vermont save money on their fuel bills and if that means our customers and members value our business that much more, it’ll be worth more than any additional short-term profit we might be losing.

We can help you make your home more efficient with a free home energy assessment. Give us a call (802-860-4090) if you’re ready to invest in energy savings like the Kessels!

For more on this new partnership, checkout Vermont Digger’s piece by John Herrick.

Heating and Fuel Assistance for Energy Co-op of Vermont Members

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Vermont’s famous January thaw is done. The February freeze appears to have set in … perhaps a bit early! The last week has seen the lowest temperatures of the heating season. And that means heating bills are on the rise. We don’t like to see anyone trying to get through the winter without staying warm enough. So every year, the Energy Co-op works with several state agencies, as well as other organizations to help more than 170 Co-op members who may be challenged, financially or otherwise, to stay warm all winter long.

Every heating season we deliver more than 90,000 gallons of  kerosene and heating oil to the Energy Co-op’s members, in large part, with funds provided by Seasonal Fuel AssistanceCrisis Fuel AssistanceGlobal PartnersCitizens Energy and the Co-op Oil Bank.  For every $12 Co-op membership, we put $2 into the Co-op Oil Bank to help pay for fuel oil deliveries and heating services for Co-op members having trouble paying their bills.

Of course, if your heating equipment isn’t working, then fuel assistance won’t do much! Furnaces and boilers need regular maintenance and servicing to operate efficiently. If you’re having trouble paying for maintenance or a repair on your furnace or boiler, help is available from Crisis Fuel Assistance, the Weatherization Program and Efficiency Vermont.

And even if fuel is in the tank and the heating system is working properly, many Vermont homes are leaky and poorly insulated.  This means money is literally going out the chimney! Fortunately, Vermont’s Weatherization Program helps low-income Vermonters by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Weatherization typically produces energy savings of at least 30%. According to a recent report by Vermont’s Thermal Efficiency Task Force (TETF), a typical Vermont household could save $1,000 a year with the completion of proper weatherization techniques, such as adding insulation, sealing air leaks, and replacing or repairing heating systems.

The Energy Co-op of Vermont is also proud to offer Free Home Energy Check Ups for our members. This is a great, simple way to see how efficient your home is. If you or someone you know needs financial help with a fuel delivery, repair or maintenance issue, or weatherization, please call the Energy Co-op at (802) 860-4090 or visit any of the resource links above.

Member: Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Renewable Energy Vermont, Local First Vermont

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