Karen Glitman: Vermonters share their voice on energy

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Energy eats up a large portion of Vermonters' monthly expenses.

That's one thing we heard from Vermonters we met during Efficiency Vermont's statewide tour this fall. In addition to these in-person conversations and live polling, Efficiency Vermont gathered input online to help identify the most pressing energy issues facing Vermonters.

Of the people who attended our forums, 32 percent of live-poll respondents reported spending over $500 per month on heating, driving, and electricity; and an additional 45 percent spend between $250 and $500. For those living at or below the poverty line, these costs can consume 10 percent or more of their income.

Efficiency Vermont held these forums in Bennington, Brattleboro, Newport, Randolph, and Milton to inform our next three-year performance period. For Vermonters not able to take part in person, an online survey was available.

From these exchanges we learned that Vermonters are focused on a few key areas.

First, the people we heard from value Efficiency Vermont's role in making efficiency services and efficient products more affordable and accessible in all regions of the state. This has been a staple of our work for 17 years: training contractors, bringing the best technology to Vermont, and buying down the cost for consumers. It's enabled Vermont to meet 15 percent of its power supply through efficiency — and is something Efficiency Vermont will continue to do.

Second, people are interested in innovations in the energy sector. Smart appliances, electric vehicles, and zero energy homes (among other solutions) were discussed frequently. The energy system of tomorrow may look very different than the system of today. We want to make sure we continue to provide customers with objective advice to make sense of the options and find the solutions that are right for them.

Finally, we heard that Efficiency Vermont's partnership with Vermont tradespeople is important and should remain a priority. Echoing much of the broader public dialogue around contractor availability, the Vermonters we talked to also see a need for more energy efficiency contractors in a number of regions across the state.

In the coming weeks and months, expect to hear more about our plans for the future, which will incorporate this essential customer feedback.

We're proud of our work serving Vermont and Vermonters and invite you to share your thoughts on how we can help you save energy and save money.

Karen Glitman is director of Efficiency Vermont. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manchester Journal.


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