by Brian Gray, General Manager of the Energy Co-op of Vermont I am a fuel dealer who wants to sell you less and less fossil fuel. That’s better for you, Vermont’s economy, and our planet. Let me explain: At the Energy Co-op of Vermont, a member-owned energy company that serves northwest and central Vermont, we work with homeowners every day to reduce their energy use and help them shift away from fossil fuels to more efficient and renewable home heating options. More and more forward-looking energy providers understand the value of helping their customers make this transition.
The new progress report from the Energy Action Network(link is external) (EAN) gives increased clarity and importance to the work of all energy providers. EAN’s report shows that Vermont is nowhere near on track to meet its renewable energy and emissions reduction commitments and that one of the biggest things holding us back is our dependence on fossil fuels for heating our homes and businesses.
According to EAN’s report(link is external), the thermal sector (primarily building heating) makes up 42% of Vermont’s energy use and is responsible for 35% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Added together, the solutions we can implement to reduce emissions in the thermal sector present the biggest opportunity for emissions reduction in Vermont, as modeled by EAN.
When Vermonters think about climate solutions, renewable electricity generation such as solar, wind and hydro immediately comes to mind. But in terms of meeting Vermont’s renewable energy and emissions reduction commitments, there’s a new set of rising stars that need to get just as much attention: weatherization, efficient wood heat, cold climate heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters. These options allow you to reduce emissions and save money – often precisely because they draw on those same efficient and renewable resources you are already familiar with and that contribute to Vermont’s increasingly renewable electric supply (63% renewable and 88% carbon-free statewide as of 2018, and 100% renewable in some utility territories, such as Burlington Electric Department and Washington Electric Co-op).
Right now, most Vermonters (34%) heat with fuel oil. Aside from natural gas, which is only available in certain parts of the State (25%), the next highest share of Vermonters heat with propane (19%), followed by various wood heating options (17%). We have the technology and resources to turn those statistics on their head and help the majority of Vermonters use less fuel overall with tighter homes and then provide the bulk of the heating with sustainable wood heat and cold climate heat pumps.
This doesn’t just reduce emissions. Fuel oil and propane also have the highest and most volatile costs of any heating option, and we have very little control over those prices here in Vermont. Sustainable wood heating options and cold climate heat pumps not only produce far less pollution they are in many cases lower cost, safer, and far more stable in price over time. Using these heating options keeps a higher share of your energy dollars local, benefiting our Vermont economy and helping employ more of our neighbors.
It is easier and more affordable now than it ever has been to significantly reduce your fossil fuel usage for heating. We help more and more of our customers do it every day. No matter where you live or what your home or building is like, with a combination of weatherization and renewable options, there is a low or no carbon heating solution that’s right for you.
You might be thinking, “why would a fuel dealer want to help me to reduce my use of fossil fuels?” Our purpose as energy providers is to deliver warmth and comfort to Vermonters’. And with breakthroughs in efficient and renewable technology options over the past decade, there are now many options that are better for Vermonters wallets and pocketbooks, their homes, our state, and the planet. We can keep you warm, comfortable and run a sustainable, growing business, while protecting all of these things we care about.
At the Energy Co-op of Vermont, we are proud to be part of Vermont’s growing climate economy. We believe that energy providers can help usher in an efficient and renewable energy future.
The Energy Co-op of Vermont(link is external) is a member-owned, not-for-profit fuel services and energy efficiency cooperative located in Colchester, Vermont. The Co-op opened for business in 2001 and serves over 2,700 members and customers in Northwestern and Central Vermont with deliveries of heating oil, kerosene and premium wood pellets. The Co-op also offers energy audits, weatherization services and maintenance, repair and installation of high-efficiency heating equipment such as furnaces, boilers and heat pumps.
Brian Gray is the General Manager of the Energy Co-op of Vermont.