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Middlebury is targeted for energy programs

2019-02-04

In 2017, VCRD brought "the Greater Middlebury Climate Economy Initiative" to Middlebury through our Climate Economy Model Communities program. The program is a partnership with Efficiency Vermont and other utilities to help communities build and implement priority actions that increase economic vitality and affordability in a time of climate change.

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By Sarah Asch, as seen in the Addison Independent: http://www.addisonindependent.com/201902middlebury-targeted-energy-programs

MIDDLEBURY — As part of its 2019 effort to reduce energy use in the Green Mountain State, Efficiency Vermont is targeting Middlebury and four other Vermont communities to help home and business owners cut back on power consumption.

Efficiency Vermont began its campaign in Middlebury in the fall of 2017 as part of a partnership with the Greater Middlebury Climate Economy Initiative, according to Efficiency Vermont Account Manager Meghan Chambers.

“We’re trying to make everybody in Middlebury and Addison County aware that Efficiency Vermont is here and we’ll help connect you with the right services,” Chambers said.

One of the first steps local businesses can take is to schedule a site walk-through, she said. Interested business owners can contact the company and have a staff member visit their building to identify potential efficiency upgrades.

“We can come to your business or home and share advice and best practices on how to save energy,” Chambers said. “We will give you information on the savings potential, and can often offer incentives and financing to make the project a little easier to pursue.”

Efficiency Vermont runs a similar program for residential walk-throughs to help homeowners save energy and money, Chambers said.

Dan Brown, co-owner of the Swift House Inn in Middlebury, had his building checked out by Efficiency Vermont to get a better understanding of his energy needs.

Brown first worked with Efficiency Vermont about 10 years ago when he used its incentives to help pay for new, energy-efficient light bulbs at the Swift House.

Efficiency Vermont also helped Brown finance the installation of an energy-saving internal heating system that detects when a guest is in the room and adjusts the temperature accordingly.

“When the guest is there they could set anything they wanted on the thermostat but when they leave the system detects that and it goes back to a pre-set temperature I decide after a certain amount of time,” he said.

Brown has also taken advantage of Efficiency Vermont’s appliance rebate offers, both at the Swift House and at the Charter House, where he serves on the board. He said he consults Efficiency Vermont when he purchases machines for the kitchen and laundry room.

“Any time we buy a refrigerator or any device in our commercial kitchen, I contact them for advice and they steer me to technologies or brands,” he said. “If I buy something and it qualifies, they send me the incentive.”

Between all the upgrades Brown has made over the years, the engineers at Efficiency Vermont have calculated that he saves $815 a year, in addition to the positive environmental impact.

Brown recommends that all businesses consult Efficiency Vermont about how to improve their energy use.

“Every single business that’s doing anything in the energy consumption area should always use Efficiency Vermont,” he said. “You’re leaving money on the table when you don’t. You might be installing a system that’s going to cost you more to operate if you don’t use their help.”

Chambers encouraged everyone to reach out to Efficiency Vermont, not just those who are considering major changes to their businesses or homes. She pointed out that not all energy-saving measures require a huge investment.

“Just simple measures like being careful about your space heater use, if you have a dehumidifier, let’s make sure it has a set point, let’s make sure you don’t have your air conditioning in year round,” she said. “Sometimes people don’t know, so we’re here to help them identify those opportunities.”

Chambers said that she and the other account managers are always available to answer questions.

“It is our job to help,” she said. “We will happily guide them through all of it and answer any questions they have at any time.”