Tuesday January 22, 2013

HALIFAX -- The Selectboard has decided to go ahead and promote energy efficiency with a program called the Home Energy Challenge.

"It’s a statewide program being designed for any and all towns who wish to participate with the intention of getting a higher percentage of homes weatherized, so people will be saving energy in their homes," said Selectboard member Edee Edwards.

Each participating town has a target goal of getting at least 3 percent of the homes in each town to take part in the Home Energy Challenge. For Halifax, that means getting 12 homes to participate.

Homes will be evaluated by completing an energy audit. Then homeowners will have their homes weatherized.

The Windham Regional Commission held a meeting for anyone interested in this program, which is being hosted by Efficiency Vermont.

Halifax Energy Conservation Officer Tristan Roberts attended, along with Edwards. Roberts will be responsible for coordinating the efforts towards energy efficiency with the citizens of Halifax.

To raise awareness on energy efficiency "the program suggests activities to undertake the challenge and neighbors talking to neighbors about the program," according to Edwards. There will be kits made available to educate people on the program as well.

Also, on Town Meeting, participants will share their results with other residents.

"The program itself sounds like they’re offering a tool kit, if you will, to offer towns different ways to work towards energy efficiency," Edwards said. "They offer suggested ideas to promote energy efficiency."

She mentioned that weatherization causes people all types of concerns.

"There are a lot of unknowns. Like, how long will it take? How much will it cost? What will be the disruption?" said Edwards. "The idea here is to help people get past those barriers, to understand an energy audit then implement some of those ideas."

There are a lot of elements to the program. One way that people have had their homes weatherized is by adding insulation.

An energy audit may tell a homeowner how many air changes there are in an hour inside their home. This may tell the homeowner about air leakage.

"Ideally, it (the energy audit) will give you a list of remediation activities," said Edwards.

For an example, Edwards mentioned a home having an attic space. More air leakage occurs in that room in a house.

The Home Energy Challenge is an initiative of a bigger scope for the state.

Roberts told the Reformer that by 2020, the state would like to reach a certain number of energy efficient homes. He talked about meeting the goal of having 3 percent of the homes in town go through the energy audit and weatherization process.

"I think that’s a good goal for each town in Vermont to take up and together we can pull together resources and ideas to help make it happen," said Roberts. "It’s probably one of the best places people can put their money if they want a return on investment."

The program will offer incentives and plans to make home improvements that cater to cost effectiveness as well as energy efficiency.

"In the town of Halifax, there are 400 year-round homes," Roberts said. "Several have taken on small and large projects and have been very happy. If you talk to people about the benefits to their wallets, and this is a good place to invest some money. ... It’s an easy sell. We’ll be looking for people to get in touch with us and see if we can work with them."

Another thing the Selectboard has mentioned and plans to look into is researching the possible replacement of streetlights to improve energy efficiency in town.

Other nearby towns that had citizens attend the WRC meeting on the program included Guilford, Whitingham and Marlboro.

For more information on the Home Energy Challenge and registration forms, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com/homeenergychallenge

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.