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Posts Tagged ‘budget plans’

New Year’s Resolution – Cut your Fossil Fuel Use

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

As we ring in the new year, we can celebrate some good news for homeowners looking to cut their fossil fuel use in 2016. At its final session in December, the U.S. Congress passed an extension for many of the most popular tax incentives for wind and solar. This provides a healthy boost to the development of new renewable power sources and will speed up replacement of fossil fuel and nuclear electricity generation with cleaner sources.

The economic advantages of extending the wind and solar tax credits go beyond price. A recent article in Bloomberg New Energy Finance states, “This is exactly the sort of bridge the industry needed. The costs of installing wind and solar power have dropped precipitously—by more than 90 percent since the original tax credits took effect—but in most places coal and natural gas are still cheaper than unsubsidized renewables. By the time the new tax credit expires, solar and wind will be the cheapest forms of new electricity in many states across the U.S.”

What does this mean for the average Vermont homeowner? It’s wonderful news because in 2016, many Vermont homeowners will qualify for credits and rebates for:

  • Making home energy improvements such as new windows, adding insulation, envelope and duct sealing.
  • Installing efficient air conditioners and heat pumps.
  • Purchasing gas or oil furnaces and furnace fans; and gas, oil, or electric heat pump water heaters.
  • Purchasing hybrid gasoline-electric, diesel, battery-electric, alternative fuel, and fuel cell vehicles.
  • Installing qualified solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, small wind and geothermal heat pump systems.
  • Installing qualifying fuel cells and microturbines, although these systems are not widely available for homes.

Many of these incentives are available for new construction as well. So if you are building a new home in 2016 be sure to talk to your builder about getting your house Energy Star® rated.

There’s no doubt that with so many different programs, credits and rebates, the average Vermont homeowner may be confused about where to begin. Start by checking these on-line resources:

For low-income Vermonters there are additional options for low-cost loans and subsidies for home energy improvements. Check the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website for more information.

Don’t forget about low-cost loans for efficiency upgrades that are widely available for all homeowners in Vermont through the Heat Saver Loan program. Also, VSECU offers a number of energy-related loans.  In many cases, the cost for your loan payment is more than covered through immediate savings on heating fuel and electricity costs.

Our core mission at the Energy Co-op is to provide our members with information, incentives and services that help to reduce their fossil fuel use. That’s why we’ve established our business model as a one-stop shop for home energy efficiency. Our service and installation teams are all NORA certified and because we are a non-profit Co-op, you can rest assured that the price you pay for service and upgrades will be fair and competitive. We’ll help you navigate through the maze of options for rebates and incentives and prioritize improvements that will offer the best return on your investment.

Why not contact us today?  We’ll be happy to help you make a New Year’s resolution that will improve the safety and efficiency of your home, keep more money in your wallet and help save the planet at the same time.

Creative Financing for Home Energy Efficiency – Save Now, Buy Later

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

“What is my pay-back?” is the question homeowners often ask when they are considering an investment in home energy improvements.  In the renewable energy community, we like to think that the real pay-back comes in the form of saving fossil fuel and improving the planet.  However, we know that financial considerations are most often the driver for these important homeowner investments.

Green Mountain Power’s recent announcement of their On-Bill Energy Improvement Loan program is a real boost for homeowner s seeking to improve their home’s energy efficiency while keeping their monthly budget intact.  This program allows homeowners to keep their average monthly electric and heating fuel payments stable while adding value to their homes with solar, thermal and energy efficiency improvements.

Unlike leasing, GMP’s program allows homeowners to benefit from federal and state tax credits and rebates.  Over the long run, this reduces the pay- back time for these improvements and also allows homeowners to build equity in their home.

The PACE Program (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is another attractive financing program for Vermont homeowners.  PACE finances energy efficient home improvements and links the payments (through property tax assessments) to the property rather than the homeowner.  This way, financing can be transferred to a new homeowner whether or not the assessment has been paid off.  This ensures that homeowners make an investment that will serve them in the short term and serve future residents of the home through lower energy bills and improved comfort.  PACE loans can also be paid off in full at any time.  Assessment payments for PACE financed improvements are repaid with low fixed payments for a period of up to 20 years.

Efficiency Vermont has more info and a list of towns in Vermont that are eligible for PACE financing.  Towns that adopt PACE financing options benefit from the improvement of the overall energy efficiency for the town’s housing stock while promoting local job growth in the energy efficiency sector.

Of course, traditional home equity loans are also a great resource for financing energy efficiency.  Many homeowners do the math on projected monthly energy savings vs. their monthly loan payments for the equity line and find themselves with positive cash flow right from the start.  Home equity loans have other advantages:  homeowners can include a variety of improvements that might not be approved by other energy-related programs, such as major appliance upgrades, window replacement and landscape improvements.  VSECU has an attractive range of home energy loan products .

No matter which way you slice it, lowering your heating fuel and/or electricity usage brings benefits to your home’s value, your bottom line and most importantly, the planet.  At the Energy Co-op of Vermont , we have a variety of programs and services that can help jump start your path towards an energy efficient home.  Call us today at (802) 860-4090 or send an email to info@ecvt.net.

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

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