Two energy providers in Burlington are expanding an energy efficiency program to homeowners.
In 2015 the Burlington Electric Department and Vermont Gas Systems offered incentives to multi-unit rental owners who improved the energy efficiency of their buildings. Vermont Gas Systems CEO Don Rendell says they had hoped 50 landlords would participate in their energyChamp efficiency incentive program. “Burlington is filled with beautiful older buildings used for apartments. Those buildings are among the least energy efficient and have the most to gain from energy efficiency and the most to gain from our energyChamp challenge. We had what we thought was a pretty aggressive and ambitious goal and we're really thrilled to say today that we sailed past that goal. And that’s added up to total energy savings of almost $650,000. It’s a great example of what we can achieve by working together.”
The success prompted the utilities to move forward with Phase 2 and offer the energyChamp challenge to residential homeowners. Rendell explains that it’s a web portal that helps individuals understand their energy use. “This is our effort to really help them be able to act in a simple direct way to improve their savings, to improve their energy efficiency, to reduce their carbon footprint. And when you think about what we do traditionally as utilities a lot of it is about statistics, details and numbers and what we're really aiming for is how can we get to the customers in a really effective way that will help them act to improve energy efficiency.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger calls the energyChamp program an exciting partnership between the electric and natural gas companies, providing a new tool for city residents. “This is a very elegant interface that will allow any customer of the Burlington Electric Department or Vermont Gas to get a detailed projection of how their house is doing in terms of a number of important efficiency metrics and will also be linked to some real opportunities for savings. And it's a very powerful platform that could I think over time potentially be expanded.”
Weinberger is part of a group called Climate Mayors and he says programs like this enhance climate leadership occurring at the local level. “Burlington's energy efficiency programs go all the way back to 1989. More recently we got over the final hump just in the last couple years of sourcing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources. And we've set this even more ambitious goal of becoming a net zero city and it is initiatives like this that are going to get us there. I actually think this one has great potential because this initiative really empowers Burlington individuals, Burlington households, to have a much clearer understanding of how each household is doing and what tools they have to be doing even better. So this absolutely is an important strategy for meeting our larger climate goals.”
The Central Vermont Community Action Council’s Home Energy Makeover Trailer is parked on Church Street in Burlington through Wednesday with information about the energyChamp partnership from Burlington Electric and Vermont Gas.