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Weatherization

Talk with a Home Energy Expert

  1. Get a walk-through assessment or energy audit of your home

    A walk-through with an energy professional can point out great ways to save money and make your home more comfortable. A full audit involves a test to see how leaky your house is and a written report that explains all suggested measure to take, the cost of each measure, and the time it will likely take to pay off. This information is great for planning the most significant energy saving upgrades to your home. Audits usually cost between $300-600 and your contractor may apply that cost toward the actual work, should you choose to pursue it. Here are tips on how to prepare for an audit

    There are a variety of walk-through and audit services available, depending on where you live, the fuel you use, and your income level.

    If you are a Vermont Gas customer, check out their audit program.

  2. Undertake comprehensive energy improvements on your home

    Vermont is aiming for 80,000 homes to be weatherized by 2050. Be the next one. Based on where you live and the fuel you use to heat your home, different offers may be available. One statewide option is Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®. It’s a comprehensive way to upgrade the comfort, health, and efficiency of your home. A contractor will review your heating and ventilation systems for safety, determine where your home is losing heat, and present a plan to improve the air sealing and insulation. You decide what to move forward with. There are up to $2000 of incentives available for this ($5000 for businesses). 

    Learn more about weatherization services

    Natural gas customers should contact Vermont Gas Systems at 802-863-4511 x321 to ask about incentives and eligibility.

    Income-qualified Vermonters can get low-cost or free weatherization services. Check with your local weatherization agency:

Do-it-Yourself (DIY)

  1. Turn down your thermostat or install a programmable thermostat

    For each degree you turn the thermostat down in the winter (around the clock), you save about 2% on your heating bill. Traditional, programmable, and smart thermostats are simple and effective tools to reduce energy use and save money. All thermostats can save energy and money when used or programmed to maximize efficiency. Non-programmable thermostats require in-the-moment action to adjust temperatures. Programmable thermostats adjust your heating and cooling set-points for you (but only if you program them properly). And smart thermostats study your behavior to self-optimize and automate for greater energy savings. They can also be remote-monitored and adjusted via smartphone, allowing for a high degree of user control.    

    Details on thermostats

  2. Caulk your windows and other gaps along the window frame

    To make your windows more efficient, start by fixing some common sources of air leaks: replace cracked panes and glazing compound, add caulking around window casings, and fill in unused pulley cavities. (Be careful not to caulk the window shut.) Watch a video for air sealing equipment.

    Get started with air sealing

  3. Change the filter on your furnace every 3-4 months

    Clean or replace your furnace, heat pump, and ventilation system filters every few months to improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency. Consult the manual for the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.

  4. Install outlet and switch-plate foam gaskets and outlet safety plugs

    If you place your hand over your electrical outlets in the winter on a windy day, you can feel cold air blowing through them. Foam gaskets seal off the wall cavity behind the outlets and switch plates facing the exterior of the house from the living space. The plugs reduce leakage through unused outlets. You can purchase foam gaskets and plugs from most hardware and building supply stores.

  5. Weather strip your doors

    Exterior doors in your home can allow air leaks even when they are closed. Weather stripping your doors is easy and it can keep energy costs down. It'll also help you stay cozy in winter. Seal cracks around your door with weather stripping to weatherize your home and keep out drafts. There is a wide variety of weather stripping to choose from. Also, be sure to install a door sweep at the bottom of the door. Watch a video and find a retailer for air sealing equipment. 

    Get started with air sealing

  6. Make sure cold air returns for forced-air systems are free from blockages

    Don’t block the heat or the cold air returns from a forced-air system. Furnaces need adequate supplies of cold air in order to operate efficiently. For radiators or baseboard heaters, be sure to vacuum or dust them regularly and remove furniture, carpets, or drapes that cover them.

  7. Make sure window sash locks are working and locked

    Locking the window sash lock will help ensure that the window is completely closed, reducing air leakage. If you find a window without a sash lock, they can be easily purchased at your local hardware or building supply store.

  8. Seal up the fireplace chimney

    A wood-burning fireplace adds beauty and a comfortable atmosphere, but it is not a very efficient way to heat your home, and can actually increase your winter energy bills. If you own a fireplace, close the damper when there isn't a fire. In addition, consider installing flue sealers – which are removable stoppers that prevent air from escaping through the chimney. These inflatable devices – made from heavy-gauge plastic – are inexpensive, and easy to install and remove.

  9. Seal your window AC unit

    Knowing how to insulate a window AC unit for the winter is one of best things one can do to keep heating costs under control once the thermometer starts to dip. With window air conditioning units, there are two options when it comes to weatherizing the home: cover and insulate around the unit or remove the unit entirely and seal the window for the winter.

    Guide to sealing your window AC unit

  10. Seal ductwork in attic and uninsulated crawlspaces

    If you heat or cool your home with forced air, you could lose up to 30% of it through your ducts – if they’re in a cold space and not sealed. That leads to uncomfortable rooms and high energy costs. Sealing them up can make a big difference. Kate will show you how.

    Duct sealing tips

  11. Add storm windows and doors

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, leaky windows can account for 10–25% of your heating bill. If your windows are in good shape—or if you’re on a tight budget—adding storm windows is far more affordable than replacing the windows. Storm windows keep outside air from seeping in and protect your windows and doors from storm damage. Storm windows are most often installed on the exterior of your existing windows, but you can opt for interior storm windows as well.  Options range from simple, interior plastic storm window kits to more costly (and effective) interior and exterior options.

    Select and install storm windows

DIY - Advanced

  1. Air seal and insulate your attic

    Attics are often the single largest source of heat loss in a home. Heat loss is due to both air leakage through gaps and holes, as well as lack of sufficient insulation. Sealing air leaks through the use of professional spray foam gun is highly effective. Once air leaks have been sealed, then additional insulation can be added.

    Watch how to air seal and insulate your attic

  2. Insulate and weatherize your basement door

    One of the leakiest parts of the basement is the basement door – which in many cases is a simple piece of plywood. Be sure to install weather stripping, and either insulate the door or replace it with an exterior door that is well-insulated.

    Watch how to insulate and weatherize your basement door

  3. Insulate the box sill and rim joist

    Basements are oftentimes the second largest area of heat loss in your home after the attic. Some of the leakiest parts of the basement are the box sills, sill plates, and rim joists. The sill plates and rim joists sit on the foundation wall. Air leaks through the gaps and cracks all the way along your foundation wall. Your rim joist or box sills may already be insulated with fiberglass; however, fiberglass does not do a good job at stopping air leakage. If you have fiberglass in the box sill or rim joist, pull it out and air seal and re-insulate.

    Watch how to insulate your basement

  4. Seal up and insulate your attic hatch

    Attic hatches can be a huge source of heat loss in a home. They are often not air sealed, allowing air to transfer between the conditioned space and the attic. In addition, they are usually constructed from thin wood or drywall, neither of which provides any appreciable resistance to energy loss. Be sure to install at least 6 inches of rigid insulation attached to the hatch and weather stripping.

    Watch how to seal up and insulate your attic hatch and other areas of your house

Upgrade Equipment

  1. Get a tune-up on your boiler or furnace

    A pre-winter tune-up helps your furnace or boiler run cleaner, more efficiently and last longer. For fuel oil systems, make sure you get an inspection and tune-up on an annual basis. For gas-fired (propane or natural gas)‏ systems, every two years will suffice. Talk with your fuel provider about getting a tune-up.

  2. Install a cold climate heat pump to displace some of your heating needs

    A cold climate heat pump can lower your heating costs considerably and double as a cooling system in the summer. Heat pumps draw heat from the environment and move it indoors to heat your home, or move it outdoors to cool your home. Air-source heat pumps gather heat from the ambient air, while ground-source or geothermal heat pumps extract it from the ground. Heat pump technology has evolved in recent years, and new ductless air-source models are designed to excel in cold climates like Vermont’s. The efficiency and cost savings of switching to heat pumps can be significant, depending on the fuel you use currently. Efficiency Vermont is offering rebates for heat pumps at the time of purchase.

    Get more information about heat pumps and find out whether a heat pump is right for your home

  3. Replace your furnace/boiler with an energy efficient, ENERGY STAR qualifying model

    Furnaces and boilers are how most Vermonters heat their homes and businesses. Today’s models are up to 50% more efficient than those built pre-1995 – saving you money and energy. While a new furnace or boiler is a major expense, you’ll recoup the cost over time through lower energy bills. And if you weatherize your home or building, you may be able to buy a smaller, less expensive system.

    Learn about efficient furnaces and boilers and available rebates

Hot Water Efficiency

  1. Turn your hot water down to 120 degrees

    120° is a high enough temperature to kill bacteria and good enough for a shower.

  2. Install shower heads that use 1.5 gallons/minute or less

    Low flow showerheads used to mean you were just in a mist of water. No more. There are some great options at local retailers that maintain water pressure with a lot less water, meaning you pay less to heat it.

  3. Install a heat pump hot water heater

    Water heating can eat up 20% of your total energy bill. Heat pump water heaters can cost half as much to operate as traditional electric resistance water heaters, and can save over $1,800 over the lifetime of the unit. Not only do they heat water, heat pump water heaters also air condition and dehumidify the space around them.

    Determine if heat pump or solar heaters are right for you

  4. Insulate pipes from the hot water heater

    Insulating the hot water pipes with foam tubes helps keep that water hot as it travels from your heater to where you’re using it. Pipe insulation is cheap and easy to add. Some newer water heaters have built in insulation. If your water heater says it has less than an R25 insulation, or if it feels warm when you touch it, it’s worth insulating. Renee will show you how. Figure out the size of your pipes and pick some insulation up at your local hardware store.

Have questions? Call 888-921-5990 for answers and advice from an Efficiency Vermont energy specialist. Monday-Friday, 8-5. If you live in Burlington, contact Burlington Electric Department at 802-865-7342.