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Posts Tagged ‘Vermont renewable energy’

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.

Home grown heating – why wood pellets beat fossil fuels

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

At the Energy Co-op of Vermont, we are encouraged to see the recent positive trend in the use of wood pellets for heating fuel.  Across the country, there are a wide variety of incentives, rebates and initiatives feeding this trend.  In a rural state like Vermont, where the price volatility of traditional heating fuels like oil and propane can be a real hardship for homeowners , this “home grown” solution is particularly appealing.

Many states are awakening to the benefits of wood pellets, not only for cost savings vs. fossil fuels, but also for lower emission ratings.  Says John Ackerly of the Alliance for Green Heat during an August 6th Biomass Thermal Energy Council webinar, “Residential wood heat has risen dramatically in recent years, especially in Northeast and Great Lakes states, in some cases, by 100 percent… incentive programs are guiding consumer purchasing and steering people to cleaner and more efficient appliances.”  Ackerly added that he sees programs requiring professional installations and home energy audits as additional new trends.

The “secret sauce” of wood pellets is made with ground wood, waste wood, paper, bark and other combustibles and turned  into bullet‐sized pellets that are uniform in size, shape, moisture, density and energy content.  Here’s how the Pellet Fuel Institute describes the benefits of wood pellets:

  • Moisture content of pellets is substantially lower (4% to 8% water, compared to 20% to 60% for cordwood or chips), increasing burn efficiency and allowing for more fuel to be transported in a given truck space, and more energy stored at your home.
  • The density of pellet fuel is substantially higher than cordwood (40 lbs. per cubic foot vs. 23 lbs. for cordwood).
  • Uniform shape and size allows for a smaller and simpler conveying system that reduces costs compared with fossil fuels?
  • Pellet burners feature the lowest particulate matter emissions of all solid fuel burners, and since pellets burn so efficiently (system efficiency averages 80 percent), emissions from pellet burners meet even the most stringent EPA requirements.
  • Once the ash is emptied periodically, it can actually double as a fertilizer.

There are some incentives available to assist Vermonters who are interested in transitioning to wood pellet boilers.  Efficiency Vermont currently has a pellet boiler incentive program which offers rebates to qualifying homeowners who want to replace their oil or propane furnace with a pellet boiler.

In some cases, the transition can be very simple.  Pellergy is able to replace your old oil burner with a new wood pellet burner simply by screwing and unscrewing about six bolts.  In other instances, old oil and propane boilers are replaced by new pellet boilers, like those that Pellergy offers .

There are a lot of good reasons to switch to wood pellet heating systems. Wood pellets can be locally sourced, and are clean-burning, stably priced, and abundant.  Furthermore, if you switch from fossil fuels to wood pellets you can cut your fuel bills by 25% or more every year!

At the Energy Co-op of Vermont, we have been delivering wood pellets to our customers since 2008.  We are proud to feature premium pellets from Vermont Wood Pellet Company which burn hotter and create less ash than other pellets.  The Co-op  is also the only wood pellet provider in Vermont that offers an EASY PAY (replace with Easy Pay) budget payment plan so that our members can spread the cost of their pellet purchases over ten months of the year.

Interested?  Just stop by the Energy Co-op’s office to learn more about our delivery program and pick up your free bag of wood pellets.



Energy Co-op Receives Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for Co-op Solar Program

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

The Energy Co-op of Vermont’s Co-op Solar hot water heating program has received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for it’s contributions to protecting the environment, conserving energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The Vermont Governor’s Awards were established in 1993 to “recognize the actions taken by Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and promote environmental sustainability.”  In 2012, the innovative solar program led to the installation of over 40 solar hot water systems in Chittenden County, keeping an estimated 70,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and saving Vermonters approximately $500,000 over the lifetime of the systems.

Energy Co-op General Manager John Quinney and Program Coordinator Ben Griffin accepted the award on behalf of the Vermont residents, business owners and partners who participated in the 2012 program.  Deb Markowitz, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, presented the award at UVM’s Davis Center on Tuesday evening, May 14th saying, “The Co-op Solar program was designed to make solar simple and affordable by forming strategic partnerships, negotiating volume discounts, and providing cost-effective financing to reduce the overall cost.  Others are now using this model to promote solar installations around the state.”

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

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