Residents of Mt. Holly gather in their newly weatherized town office. After competing in an energy efficiency competition in Rutland County, the town took the victory -- and a hefty prize.
"Today is our celebration for winning the award through Neighborworks of Western Vermont. We had the most houses completed. We had 32 houses done and we won $10,000," said Marcy Tanger, a member of the Mt. Holly Energy Committee.
Neighborworks hosted the year-long competition in Rutland County and judged the communities on how many houses could be weatherized. "People are very happy," Tanger said. "Our houses are so warm -- they aren't drafty. We are saving money. It's just fabulous."
Since the 32 houses were weatherized at the owners' expense, residents have saved over $50,000 in heating costs. Tanger said the town office is expected to save an average of $1,000 per year. This year, the challenge is going Statewide. Efficiency Vermont has recreated the energy competition for a larger scale. Rutland Mayor Chris Louras said it's time for his city to get in on the competition."There have been other communities that have set the example -- Mt. Holly specifically. And the City of Rutland -- it's time for us to play catch-up. As I said, we've got the old homes and a lot of them and we can make the most bang for the buck right here in Rutland City," he said.
This year's statewide competition is in response to 2008 legislation calling for 80,000 homes to be weatherized by 2020. The Mayor is having his house audited for $100. Then he will pay to weatherize it. Weatherizing a home costs an average of $7,000, but Mary Lamson with Neighborworks of Western Vermont, said the payback is certain. "People that complete home energy improvements save an average of $1,400 a year -- every single year -- on their heating fuel. That's propane, wood, kerosene, wood pellets -- whatever your fuel source -- there is opportunity to save," she said.
Rutland is one of 75 towns who have taken on the challenge. Since the start of the competition on January 1st, 11 houses have been weatherized in Rutland City. The challenge goes until December 31st. There will be six regional winners across the state -- each municipality winning a $10,000 prize to put towards further weatherization.
Until then, the competition will heat up, to drive energy use down.
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