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March 21, 2019
by Brian Gray
The Energy Co-op is a fuel dealer that wants to sell you less fossil fuel. That’s better for you, Vermont’s economy, and our planet. Let me explain:
We are member-owned energy company that serves northwest and central Vermont. We work with homeowners every day to reduce their energy use and help them shift away from fossil fuels to more efficient and renewable home heating options. We are among the increasing number of forward-looking energy providers who understand the value of helping their customers make this transition.
The new progress report from the Energy Action Network (EAN) gives increased clarity and importance to the work of all energy providers. EAN’s report shows that Vermont is nowhere near on track to meet its renewable energy and emissions reduction commitments – and that one of the biggest things holding us back is our dependence on fossil fuels for heating our homes and businesses.
According to EAN’s report, the thermal sector (primarily building heating) makes up 42% of Vermont’s energy use and is responsible for 35% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Added together, the solutions we can implement to reduce emissions in the thermal sector present the biggest opportunity for emissions reduction in Vermont .
When Vermonters think about climate solutions, renewable electricity generation such as solar, wind and hydro immediately come to mind. But in terms of meeting Vermont’s renewable energy and emissions reduction commitments, there’s a new set of rising stars that need to get just as much attention: weatherization, efficient wood heat, cold climate heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters.
Right now, 34% of Vermonters heat with fuel oil. Aside from natural gas, which is only available in 25% of the state, the next highest share of Vermonters heat with propane (19%), followed by various wood heating options (17%). We already have the technology and resources to turn those statistics on their head and help the majority of Vermonters use less fuel overall by creating tighter homes and promoting programs to increase the use of sustainable wood heat and cold climate heat pumps.
This doesn’t just reduce emissions, it also helps us control the cost of heating our homes. Fuel oil and propane also have the highest and most volatile costs of any heating option, and we have very little control over those prices here in Vermont. Sustainable wood heating options and cold climate heat pumps not only produce far less pollution: in most cases they are also lower costs with a far more stable price over time. Also, it keeps a higher share of our energy dollars local, benefitting our Vermont economy and helping employ more of our neighbors.
You might be thinking, “why would a fuel dealer want to help me to reduce my use of fossil fuels?” We believe our purpose as an energy provider is to deliver warmth and comfort to Vermonters. With breakthroughs in efficient and renewable technology over the past decade, there are now many ways to heat and cool our homes that save money, promote our state’s renewable goals and reduce carbon emissions for our planet.
At the Energy Co-op of Vermont, we are proud to be part of Vermont’s growing climate economy. Our goal is to keep our customers warm, comfortable and run a sustainable, growing business, while protecting all of these things we care about.