Helping low-income Vermonters weatherize their homes is good for our economy and our way of life. H.439 generates the money to do this by asking higher income Vermonters to pay a mere average of $2/month to invest in low-income weatherization. This plan will provide the best bang for the buck and boost Vermont’s economy, while saving lives.
H.439 Will Improve the Health of Vulnerable Vermonters
In a recent report, the Vermont Dept. of Health estimated that
weatherizing 2,000 low-income homes in Vermont would help prevent an estimated
223 emergency department visits, 13 hospitalizations, and 0.5 deaths over a 10-year
period, associated with reduced health impacts caused by asthma, cold and heat.
They also estimated the 10-year value of energy and health benefits from
weatherization to be at least $24,757 per household, or about three times the
Vermonters with limited incomes can least afford the costs of
inefficient homes and volatile fossil fuel prices. They stand to gain the most
– in savings and health – from this crucial program.
Currently Vermont invests approximately $10 million in state
funds annually to weatherize about 900 vulnerable Vermonters’ homes. This cost,
approximately $8,500 per home, achieves an approximate 29% energy savings per
home (average $500/year) and lowers greenhouse emissions by about 1.8 tons per
Weatherization can help reduce low income Vermonters’ energy
bills and free up more of their money to spend on other important things:
education, health care, food, childcare and other things that contribute to our
Heating an inefficient, leaky home is like sending dollars up
the chimney and out the windows. Rural and low income Vermonters are the most
likely to live in these homes.
The Best Bang for your Buck
Investing in efficiency has proven time and again to be one of
the highest return investments possible in the energy sector. The
cheapest energy source is the energy that you don’t use.
For every $1 invested in weatherization $2.51 is returned to the
household and community.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that for every $1
invested in weatherization, it returns over FOUR times ($4.50) in energy and
non-energy benefits…creating lower bills, healthier homes, greater comfort,
greater productivity, and reducing GHG emissions. There is no investor on Wall
Street who wouldn’t want that cost/benefit ratio.
The Vermont Department of Health estimates that the 10-year
benefit of weatherization in fuel savings and health is nearly THREE times
greater than the initial investment per household.
H.439 will be Good for Vermont’s Economy
Efficiency supports the largest number of clean energy jobs in
Vermont (10,600 in 2017). Of those, 7,800 Vermonters are employed in
weatherization and thermal efficiency.
This investment will create more jobs in Vermont’s fastest
growing job sector – clean energy – equating to full time jobs through the WAP
agencies and their subcontractors.
This investment would help keep far more Vermont energy dollars
in state. Vermont imports 100 percent of the fossil fuels we use. That means 78
cents out of every dollar spent on fossil fuels leaves the state, creating a
significant drain on our economy.
For every dollar invested in weatherization, roughly 50 cents
goes to local labor and about 30 cents buys materials (mostly from local
suppliers) with the remainder going to equipment, vehicles, supplies and
administration. Most of these dollars stay local, recirculating and helping to
bolster Vermont’s economy.
H.439 Will Help Vermont Meet Climate Goals
Since 2005, Vermont has had greenhouse gas emissions goals in
statute, aimed at doing our part to address the increasingly urgent issue of
climate change. We are falling far short of those goals and more needs to be
done to reduce energy consumption in our 2nd most carbon-intensive sector. To
meet our GHG targets and get to 90% renewable by 2050, Vermont needs to drive
down about 1/3 of its energy consumption through efficiency.
In 2007, the Vermont Legislature set a goal of weatherizing at
least 25% of the state’s housing stock by 2020 (approximately 80,000 housing
units overall). As of 2017 (latest figures), Vermont was at 25,409 overall and
just over 10,000 low-income. We have a ways to go.
This is also one of the most economically impactful climate
action strategies the state could embrace. Recently, at the request of JFO, the
Regulatory Assistance analyzed “non pricing” climate and energy solutions.
Their high level takeaway? In terms of addressing climate change,
weatherization “avoid(s) carbon emissions at better than zero cost.”
Let’s take a stand for our most vulnerable Vermonters and give
an extra boost to our economy while we’re at it!
For more information, here are some recent editorials about
Vermont Weatherization efforts:
Collins: How we heat our homes matters
Mohri: The good work of the Weatherization Program