Button up your overcoat

3,028 fewer tons of CO2 in a year … More about that in a minute …

I could hear the wind whistle outside of the house and see the beautiful, magical crystalline pattern on the storm windows.

It was time to go to work, so the first thing I reached for was the new bright and warm Vermont Flannel scarf given to me as a Christmas present. Then the long black wool coat that fell down to my ankles. Thinsulate gloves were next, and last to put on was the hand-knit hat that was so good at producing delightful winter hat hair. I was as ready as I could be to go outside into the cold – no, freezing – winter day.

It may be a professional hazard, but as I don my winter wear I can’t help but compare the clothing protecting my body to the weatherization that protects my home.

There are two CVOEO programs that help keep those we serve warm in the wintertime. One is the Crisis Fuel/Warmth Program. Picture an old Vermont farmhouse. There is a fire in the wood stove and the furnace is churning to warm the home. Crisis fuel and warmth will put energy in the furnace to keep this family warm. It is an expensive proposition, absolutely necessary to address the immediate need and drafts that will continue to require the use of heavy sweaters and long underwear. In the 2016-2017 heating season, CVOEO distributed 2,000 Crisis Fuel Grants totaling $556,633.72. Warmth funding was given to the people we serve 2,692 times for a total of $266,582 distributed to heating vendors.

The second and best long-term solution to keeping Vermonters warm in the winter comes through weatherization. Senior citizens, persons with disabilities, families with young children, households below 60 percent of median income, and those households with high energy use and low income receive priority for CVOEO Weatherization. Every family that receives Crisis Fuel or Warmth Funding is referred to CVOEO’s Weatherization Program. Vermont is ranked 51st in energy affordability and has the second-oldest housing stock in the nation with 46 percent of units built before 1970.

To weatherize a home, energy auditors employ high-tech tools to test each section of the house. The blower- door test is a foundational tool to check for airtightness and to set a baseline measure for energy savings. Infrared cameras are used to detect temperature changes in walls, roof and ductwork. They provide a map for additional insulation. CVOEO crews do the insulation and shell work to make each home warm and safe.

After weatherization improvements, there is an average savings of 150-230 gallons of oil per year. In 2014, low-income weatherization activities prevented 3,028 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. CVOEO completed weatherization work on 182 homes in FY17.

“If I didn’t have Champlain Valley Weatherization Services I would have to sell my home. By their work I’m saving several hundred dollars a month,” said David, a CVOEO Weatherization client.

Button up your overcoat and weatherize your home. Winter winds are going to continue to blow.

Jan F. Demers, is executive director of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity. Reach her at 862-2771 ext. 740 or jdemers@cvoeo.org.

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