By Guy Page
Gov. Phil Scott and state officials today unveiled a new online resource, Button Up Vermont, to help lessen the financial burden of staying warm this winter.
The cost of No. 2 home heating fuel in Vermont was $4.53/gallon on October 3 this year, the highest October since at least 1990, and the second highest month since at least 1990 (March 2022 was the peak at $5.05). This October compares unfavorably for consumers to $2.08 in October, 2016, $2.35 in 10/2017, $2.93 in 10/2018, $2.74 in 10/2019, $2.01 in 10/2020, and $3.00 in October, 2021. more than twice the cost of the same fuel in October.
Button Up Vermont lists 22 heating assistance, weatherization, and furnace replacement programs offered by the State of Vermont, regional utilities, and lenders. The “variety of financial supports, incentives, discounts and no-cost offers are available, depending on income level, utility and region” include:
- Home Weatherization Assistance Program: Free weatherization for income-eligible households via the State of Vermont. When considering the other options listed below, Vermonters below 80% Area Median Income (AMI) should be applying to this program first for no cost weatherization.
- Enhanced Income-Qualified Weatherization Rebate: Incentives to cover 75% of weatherization up to $5000 via Vermont Gas Systems.
- 3E Thermal Services: Cash incentives and technical support for installing energy efficiency upgrades in qualified Vermont apartment buildings via 3E Thermal and State of Vermont.
- Saving Energy in Your Kitchen: Rebates for energy efficient kitchen appliances via Burlington Electric Department.
- Energy Savings Kit: Free LED lightbulbs, water saving devices, etc. via Efficiency Vermont.
- Residential Appliance, Home Heating/Cooling and Home Improvement Rebates: Rebates for a variety of efficiency products and projects, including heat pumps, wood pellet stoves, furnaces and boilers, clothes dryers, insulation and sealing, and more via Efficiency Vermont and network partners.
- Federal Tax Credit for Biomass Stoves: Federal tax credit on the purchase of a wood or pellet stove or larger residential biomass heating system with a Thermal Efficiency Rating of at least 75%.
- Woodstove Change out and Repair Incentive: Incentives are available to help cover the costs of replacing old inefficient wood stoves with advanced EPA certified wood and pellet stoves via the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) at the Vermont Department of Public Service.
- Advanced Wood Heating System Incentive: Incentive to install efficient central wood pellet heating systems via the Vermont Department of Public Service.
- Coal Change Out Incentive: Discount to replace coal stove, furnace, or boiler with a pellet stove, furnace, or boiler via the Vermont Department of Public Service.
- Several local utility offers (see website for details).
- Pellet Storage Voucher: Provides a voucher to cover a portion (up to 85%) of the costs of installing pellet storage systems for existing heating systems or additional bin installation with a new system via the Vermont Public Service Department.
- Wood Pellet or Chip Fired Evaporator Incentive: Incentives for existing sugaring operations to cover a portion of the cost of a new evaporator that completely replaces oil, propane or cord wood fired units with wood pellet or wood chip fired units (cord/chunk wood fired systems are ineligible for this incentive) via the Vermont Public Service Department.
- Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Incentive: Work with an Efficiency Excellence Network contractor to improve your home’s insulation and air sealing and get 75% off project costs via Efficiency Vermont.
Gov. Scott was asked by Vermont Daily Chronicle about the wisdom of swapping out “old, efficient woodstoves” in light of the regional electricity grid’s warning of possible blackouts in worse-case winter conditions. He said some replacement systems, including efficient pellet stoves, work without electricity.
Public Service Dept. Commissioner June Tierney also urged Vermonters concerned about high costs to change their personal behavior. If they’re concerned about the high cost of gasoline, then drive less, she said. If they’re concerned about home heat affordability, then “think about adding another layer” of clothing, in addition to the Button Up options.