Thermal Efficiency for Low Income Households in Vermont
Thermal energy efficiency—improvements in the usable heating and cooling performance of buildings—directly lowers energy costs and creates indirect benefits for the household and broader community. These include improved energy affordability, improved work and school productivity, job creation, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. An estimated 125,000 Vermonters are fuel-poor, a situation that forces them to make difficult decisions between household health and comfort and other basic services. This paper characterizes and quantifies the multitude of benefits associated with investments in thermal energy efficiency initiatives, especially as they relate to reducing the fuel burden on low-income households. The paper also reviews policies for capturing and delivering those benefits in Vermont. The recommendations include, strengthening building codes and standards, utilizing integrated resource planning to advance thermal efficiency, establishing binding energy savings targets, enabling new markets for energy efficiency services, and expanding successful existing programs.