Build Your List
Here’s your checklist! Take a photo of yourself doing any of these tasks and submit it at buttonupvermont.org/rewards for a chance to win $50. If you have any questions about how to complete these tasks, call Efficiency Vermont for advice: (888) 921-5990. After you complete items, log them to show progress for your community at the new Vermont Energy Dashboard: vtenergydashboard.org.
Easy To Do
Use advanced power strips. Most electronics—such as TVs, computers, and game consoles—draw power even when they’re turned off. Advanced power strips eliminate this wasted electricity, saving you up to $100 per year.
Storm windows and doors keep outside air from seeping in and protect your windows and doors from storm damage. Check out a local hardware store or a materials reuse center to pick up what you need or ask a contractor for assistance.
There are several ways you can start saving energy now. But some opportunities are out of one person’s control. Local, state, and federal government can update building codes to ensure your (or your kid’s) future home is more efficient and healthy, help utilities provide cleaner energy, and provide more public transportation options. Businesses and nonprofits can also step up to help Vermonters save energy by making services and manufacturing more efficient. Talk with your elected officials about what they can do to increase options to use less energy and join local groups to advocate for the change you want to see. Check out 350.org, Brighter Vermont, Conservation Law Foundation, Energy Independent Vermont, Local Motion, Renewable Energy Vermont, Rising Tide, Sierra Club, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Vermont Energy & Climate Action Network, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and local groups near you.
If you’re renting, there’s often only so far you can go with energy saving improvements. Sometimes, landlords just need a little reminder about rebates available for efficient appliances. In fact, there are several rebates only available to owners of rental properties to make it more likely that renters can save energy.
If your commute is under 80 miles, it’s time to think about an electric car. Ranges continue to extend, you’ll save on maintenance, and the energy you need to travel is less than half.
Appliances and electronics that are ENERGY STAR certified meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. An ENERGY STAR certified TV, for example, uses about 40% less energy than a standard model.
If you have an older model fridge and you’re not ready to upgrade yet, pull it back from the wall and dust off any coil system you find behind it. This helps it do its cooling job more effectively for less cost.
If you own a fireplace or a wood stove, close the damper when there isn't a fire. An open damper pulls warm air out of your house, so be sure to close it once ashes have gone cold.
Car or van pooling to work, or taking the bus, can mean big savings. GoVermont will help you figure out how to drive less.
Don’t block the heat. Dust or vacuum radiators, baseboard heaters, and furnace duct openings, and be sure not to block them with furniture, carpets, or drapes. If you’re covering your radiator with a blanket of dust, you’ll have to wear more blankets too.
Are there lamps that you only need on at certain times of the day and you’re not there to turn them on or off? If you need a light home for when you come back at night, consider either a motion activated fixture or a timer for a lamp that can light up just before you’re home. There are even devices now that allow you to activate them with your phone.
If you’re ready to make some big improvements in air sealing and insulation but can’t afford them, consider getting a low- or no-interest loan. Your loan payments may even be less than the monthly savings on energy costs.
Want to talk with someone about the best way forward? We’re here to help. Whether it’s quick and cheap actions or investments that will give you big savings, we can help you prioritize and make your home or business more comfortable and healthier. Maybe it’s a big rebate on a new appliance or weatherizing your home or business. A quick call helps you determine what to tackle first.
- Efficiency Vermont: email or call 888-921-5990
- Capstone Community Action in Central VT: email or call 877-919-2299
- Green Mountain Power: email or call 888-835-4672
- Burlington Electric: fill in a form or call 802-865-7362
- Vermont Gas customers: call 802-863-4511
- Vermont Energy Co-op: call (802) 860-4090
Fireplaces are great. Until they suck all the warm air out of your house. Think about adding a fireplace insert and keep that nice look while actually getting some heat from the wood you’re burning.
Water heating can eat up 20% of your total energy bill. Heat pump and solar solutions can put a huge dent in that. If you already have an electric water heater, upgrading to a heat pump water heater is going to be pretty simple. You might even do it yourself. There’s a $400 rebate available now and $600 available after October 1st! Make sure you’re sizing it right so that you don’t heat more water than you need. You might even consider an on-demand system, depending on your needs.
Solar may completely cut your energy costs for heating water and there’s a $950 rebate available for 2016.
There’s never been a better time to go solar for generating electricity or hot water. It’s an upfront investment that could save you a ton on energy costs down the road. Imagine no more electric bills. There are several solar installation businesses to choose from across Vermont. Look them up online or ask a neighbor who has solar installed. If you can’t put solar at your property, your electric utility may offer an opportunity to purchase solar generation. Ask them.
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.
Modern wood heating offers an affordable, local, and renewable source of fuel with lower carbon emissions than fossil fuels. Switch to wood heat and support the Vermont economy by buying a Vermont fuel. Check out rebates for an energy efficient furnace.
Let’s make sure it’s not running more than it has to. Set the temperature to 40° and the freezer temperature at 0°. Test the door seal by closing the door over a piece of paper so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper out easily, the door may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or maybe it’s time to consider buying a new fridge (if it’s over 15 years old, it’s probably time). Another trick is to keep your fridge full so there’s not a big volume of cold air to spill out each time you open the door. Try throwing a few gallons of water in the back to take up any space you never use.
Way To Go! is a chance for you or your business to go toe to toe against carbon pollution. Bike, walk, carpool or ride the bus to victory! Win prizes, have fun—and help us reach our goal of reducing 500,000 lbs of carbon pollution in Vermont.
Clean or replace your heating system filters every few months to improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency. Consult the manual for the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule.
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).
Income-qualified Vermonters can get low-cost or free weatherization services. Check with your local weatherization agency:
- Bennington Rutland Opportunity Council (BROC), (802) 447-7515
- Capstone Community Action, (800) 639-1053
- Champlain Valley Weatherization Services (CVOEO), (800) 545-1084
- Northeast Employment & Training Organization (NETO), (800) 639-3212
- Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), (800) 464-9951
- Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity (statewide), (802) 241-2453
- Vermont Energy Co-op, (802) 860-4090
The sun can be a powerful (free) heater. Open shades on the east, south, and west sides of your home during the day to let in the light. Look for opportunities outside to remove any objects that are blocking sun from reaching your windows.
All thermostats can save energy and money when used or programmed to maximize efficiency. Programmable thermostats can adjust your heating and cooling set-points for you. 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. If you have an office space, program a thermostat to keep your heating and cooling systems off or close to off on nights and weekends or whenever people normally aren’t in. Similarly with your home, you only need to heat or cool it when you’re there.
Anything that heats or cools uses a lot of energy. If you use an air conditioner, make sure it’s sized appropriately and aim for 72° or higher. And if you find you can’t avoid using space heaters, give us a call at (888) 921-5990. There may be other solutions for staying warm in the winter.
On average, ENERGY STAR® certified dishwashers use 15% less water and 5% less energy than standard models on the market. If you’re replacing an older machine, the energy savings are even greater. Features of these dishwashers include advanced soil sensors, better water filtration, and adjustable dish racks. Most dishwasher have a default heated drying phase. Consider turning this off and opening the door to let dishes air dry.
Washers and dryers are two of the highest energy-using appliances. ENERGY STAR® certified models can save money on both electricity and water—over 3,000 gallons per year. There are also many low- and no-cost ways to economize. Use the coldest water setting, run only full loads, and use high-speed spin if you have it. Clean your dryer’s vents twice per year, dry full (but not overfull) loads, and air-dry your clothes when possible. Check out heat pump dryers, the newest drying technology, and get tips on cutting the energy your washer and dryer uses.
These can be great for cooling a specific room, but they generally leak air, creating the equivalent of a five square inch hole in your wall. You can fix that up with five strategies from your friends at the National Renewable Energy Lab.
Dehumidifiers will use dramatically more electricity if you need them to make a room really dry. Make sure it’s sized appropriate for the room and aim for 60% humidity to save energy. If you need a new dehumidifier, get an ENERGY STAR® option and get a $25 rebate in 2016.
Hanging clothes up to dry saves a good amount of energy over the year and it’s just as good in the winter as in the summer.
120° is high enough to kill bacteria and good for a shower. 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.
Buttoning up isn't just for your home. November 12th is a day to join your neighbors and improve the community. Look for an event near you or host your own. Help your community spend tax money on services (or just need less taxes) instead of air leakages by buttoning up your public buildings. Work with local retailers to promote weathization materials. Help out a neighbor with their checklist. There are tons of ways to button up together.
Find and seal air leaks. This is an easy way to make your home more comfortable and save on heating and cooling costs. By keeping out moisture, you’re also taking a stand against mold. Pick up some cheap materials (caulk, door sweep, weather stripping, window heat-shrink plastic) and start making a difference in just a few minutes. You can also go big with air sealing in your basement and attic, making a significant difference. Consider a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® project with up to $2000 of incentives available. Watch a video and find a retailer for air sealing equipment.
You may not need to dry clothes as long as you do. Experiment to see how short a dryer load can go before everything is dry.
Get a tune-up for your furnace or boiler. An annual pre-winter tune-up helps your furnace or boiler run more efficiently and last longer.
There are many service providers who can help you. If you're in northeastern Vermont, consider Vermont Energy Co-op, (802) 860-4090.
Hitting the road? Remember to turn your water heater down or completely off. No point in heating a big tank of water the entire time you’re gone.
Many electronics keep using power when they’re off and that costs you. Unplug them or hook them up to a power strip that allows you to easily shut off a bunch at once by flipping the switch.
Still have that extra fridge or freezer in the basement or garage that has a couple items in it? Try cleaning it out and unplugging it so you don’t have to pay so much each year to keep it running.
If your fridge was built back in the 90’s, it’s time for an upgrade. A new super efficient model could save you 47% and that adds up for something that’s always on. You can also check to make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Whenever you buy a new fridge, make sure you get an ENERGY STAR® model and a rebate from Efficiency Vermont. Find a retailer.
There aren’t many days in Vermont when we need serious cooling assistance, but when we do, it’s nice to have something that works. Unfortunately, air conditioners use a lot of energy. Try getting portable fans, ceiling fans, or a whole house fan system to keep you cool and save you electricity costs. In the winter, run your ceiling fan in reverse to circulate the hot air from the ceiling back down toward the floor. If you have a cold room, a portable fan or a whole house fan can help bring warm air to it rather than relying on an extra heater.
All those little pretty light bulbs add up fast. LEDs cut those energy costs by up to 70% and allow for many more strands to plug into the same outlet without overwhelming it.
Computers, especially desktops, can draw a lot of electricity. Shut them down when you can, just like you turn off the lights. Use any energy savings features, like putting the display to sleep instead of using a screensaver, or putting the computer to sleep after fifteen minutes of inactivity. If you can choose between using a laptop and a desktop, laptops will save you in energy costs.
If you’re working somewhere that requires a lamp during the day, consider moving your work area near a window so you can get by without lighting. If you still need electric light, consider getting a lamp that can shine light right where you’re working, rather than using the lights for the entire room.
Travel by foot or bike instead of driving saves money and keeps you healthy. Local Motion can help you with ideas to ditch the car and get out more often.
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