Windows: The Weak Spot In The Thermal Envelope

Geo WindowMost energy auditors tell homeowners that replacing windows and doors should be low on the list of energy saving measures. And for good reason. New high-quality windows can cost upwards of $1,000. Replacement windows are less, of course, but aesthetically they are probably less attractive than your old ones. But at the same time- old windows are usually cold and leaky.

So when we found Indow Windows, custom-made, compression interior storm inserts, we got really excited. Here is a way to save your existing window, double the R value, dramatically reduce the air leakage, improve comfort and best of all save energy dollars.

Since every window is unique and Indow Windows are made to order, the measuring system requires laser technology and software. We became a dealer because we feel that homeowners should not feel the pressure of measuring and ordering them. Mistakes are costly!

There is another reason why windows cost you in energy dollars. Warm goes to cold and the coldest surface in the room is the window. Think of your body as a sun as it tries to warm the area around it. Even though the thermostat says 68 or 70 degress, many people just “feel cold” and raise the thermostat to try and stay comfortable. The surface of an Indow Window is much warmer than glass and so you will feel warmer even if the temperature is the same in both cases.

For more information about Indow Windows, call Maura Campbell at Energy Smart of Vermont and visit


VT 6th Grader Wins Energy Conservation Contest!

Capstone Community Action of Vermont, the parent organization of Energy Smart, ran a video contest this year to help spread awareness about  “The Button Up Vermont Day of Action,” a new endeavor to inspire people to button up their homes each fall, just like we green up every spring.

The votes are in, and the winner of the people’s choice award was 11-year-old Henry Putney of Manchester with his entry, “What Do You Do if You’re Cold?”

The watch Henry’s video and all the entries, click on the link below:

Vermonters Needs Low Interest Financing For Weatherization

The most vibrant conversation in town is energy efficiency.  I think by now everyone agrees it’s a great and necessary idea.  But one of the lingering questions seems to be… how do we pay for it?

There are several low interest loans available for energy upgrades.  One is called, PACE which stands for, “Property Assessed Clean Energy.” Several towns in Vermont have adopted this program and several more are in the process.  The interest rate for PACE is 0%–6.5%, depending on income.

The main difference between PACE and other green energy loan products is the PACE loan  (max $10,000 up to 10 years) can with the property if it is sold before the loan is paid off.  And unlike most other loans, there is no credit requirement.  Another requirement is that the homeowner must first have an energy audit  with a Home Performance Contractor.

For more information about energy audits and other financing options for energy upgrades, contact Maura Campbell at Energy Smart of Vermont, 802-476-3549 or email  For more information about the PACE process visit

Energy Efficiency Investments Can Be a Safe Investment Vehicle According to Energy Consultant

Hilton Dier of Renewable Energy Design explains how investments in energy efficiency of your home or business can not only keep up with inflation, but can also provide a return on that investment.

Dier discusses the process of such investments, from an energy assessment (audit) to a retrofit, and then moving on to systems to harness solar energy (electricity and hot water). He outlines the components that contribute to the cost of such investments, and also the potential savings they may produce.

Read the article “This Investment Fits Obama’s Energy Plan and Is Even Safer Than I-Bonds” at:

New Incentives in Orange Cty. For Solar Hot Water Systems

New Incentives in Orange Cty. For Solar Hot Water Systems.

Solar House Party: Check out a Sunward solar hot water system on Saturday, Nov. 17th!

Washington Electric Cooperative member Laura Garand, of Calais, has offered to host a “Solar House Party” at her home on Saturday, November 17, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

A year ago, Laura and her husband Mike took advantage of a promotional offer by Sunward Systems, based in Vergennes, and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. The promotional offer, combined with state and federal incentives, significantly reduced the cost of a solar hot water installation, and the system has further saved the Garands money by reducing their energy costs. Laura Garand estimates that the Sunward/VPIRG promotion reduced their purchase and installation costs by roughly 50 percent.

A very similar promotion is available right now in Washington and Orange counties through the Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative, with an additional $250 discount for Washington Electric Co-op members.  Time is running short for taking advantage of this cost-saving opportunity, and we advise you not to wait until the Garands’ Open House to at least look into it. And then, a visit to their beautiful log home at 2364 Lightening Ridge Road in Calais during their Open House might convince you to pull the trigger and finalize your plans.

Interested participants are encouraged to sign up for a free solar consultation through the WEC website, regardless of whether they are a member or not.  Just go to and fill out the simple form.  A representative from Sunward will then be in touch.

EnergySmart Partners with WEC, Sunward to Launch Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative

Contact: Ben Griffin


Phone: 802-395-1388



Three Local Organizations Partner To Roll Out Solar Program

East Montpelier, VT – Three local organizations have joined together to help Vermonters save money by installing solar hot water systems. Sunward Systems is providing the solar collectors, EnergySmart of Vermont is installing the systems, and Washington Electric Co-op (WEC) is offering a discount to its members who go solar. All residents of Washington and Orange counties will receive $500 off an installed solar system. WEC members will receive $250. The program will move to other areas of Vermont next year.

A typical family of four in Vermont spends $600 per year to heat water for domestic use. The Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative will harness the power of the sun to reduce those costs.

In addition to sales tax-free equipment, savings include a 30% federal tax credit, a Vermont incentive of up to $1200, and discounts of $500 – $750 for Vermonters in Orange and Washington counties through December 31. Other areas of the state will follow. The cumulative savings allow for a solar hot water system to be installed at almost 50% off the typical cost. “Adding a solar hot water system is one of the best ways to make your home more energy efficient and save money. The Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative lowers the costs even further,” said Sunward CEO Thomas Hughes. Sunward is based in Vergennes.

EnergySmart is a social enterprise venture of the Central Vermont Community Action Council (CVCAC). “EnergySmart knows homeowners want the whole package – homes that are tight and comfortable powered by affordable renewable energy. It’s a great fit with our experience in energy renovations. We see a sustainable home as series of interconnected systems, working together to provide comfort and financial security. The Sunward solar hot water systems deliver both in an attractive, economical package,” said Paul Zabriske, General Manager of EnergySmart and also a member of the Washington Electric Cooperative.

WEC was formed in 1939 to bring electricity to rural Vermont communities and to provide its members with a voice in their energy future. WEC General manager Avram Patt feels that the initiative aligns with the cooperative’s commitments to provide energy from clean and renewable sources, and to help its members use energy efficiently and wisely. “The Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative supports several aspects of WEC’s mission. Using energy from the sun helps to minimize the environmental impacts from burning fossil fuels and generating electricity. The program also serves to support and promote our local economy and community organizations,” said Patt.

The Vermont Solar Hot Water Initiative is underway and runs through December 31, 2012. To get started, WEC members are encouraged to go to and click on the “Go Solar” link. Vermonters not served by WEC can go to and click the “Free Solar Consultation” link. They can then sign up for a free analysis of their current hot water use, as well as a free solar consultation.

Financing is also available through the VSECU Solar Loan program,, which can make the solar hot water systems cash-positive from Day One. For more information, go to or call Sunward toll-free at 1-877-803-2480.


Energy assessment before heating system replacement

Summer is the season for home improvement projects. One of the projects on many homeowners’ lists is replacing the heating system. You may have old, outdated equipment or you may just want to install a super efficient system to reduce your fuel usage. How do you go about such a large investment? Do you stay with the same fuel, or completely change to something else? Can you reduce the amount of fuel you use to begin with? Find out by getting an energy assessment done on your home BEFORE investing in a heating system. An energy analyst can review your home’s energy bills, run diagnostics, do a visual inspection, and provide recommendations and a prioritized report to guide you through your energy renovation. Tighten up your home first, then your heating system contractor can size a smaller system. It make sense–Reduce the demand for heat, reduce the size of the system. You end up with an efficient, durable, comfortable home. And you can check off one more project on your summer to-do list!

Air-sealing the bottom

Folks who sustained flood damage in the basement and first floor should have a look at the building section below and at this link.

Put together as part of a larger energy efficiency article in Fine Homebuilding magazine, the graphic highlights the points where air leakage occurs and describes solutions to control it before moving ahead with sheet rock or other repairs.


A strategy for insulating the basement

After The Flood

The devastation from Tropical Storm Irene will be with us long after the puddles have cleared up. All across the state, people are rebuilding their lives and repairing their homes. This video will give you an idea of the kind of work on hand in just one of many flood-affected towns.

If you are a homeowner or commercial building owner cleaning up after a flood, we want to gently remind you that while your walls are open, there is no better time to invest in air-sealing and insulation upgrades. You will make your building more efficient, affordable and comfortable, and it is so much easier to do this work while the basement is empty and the walls are open.

Once your walls are dry, we are happy to send folks to work with you to strategize improvements that will meet your budget.

Here are some links that might be helpful for flood clean-up:

But know that we are happy to talk to you about your home, and help you figure out the right steps for your individual situation. Just give us a call at 888-583-7110.