Step 3. Change the ways we use energy.
We can continue to reduce our GHG emissions by using less energy and by switching from high-carbon fuels to low- or no-carbon fuels. We can find the easiest opportunities right in our homes.
Vermont ranks 45th (among the states and District of Columbia) in total per capita energy consumption. We rank 46th in per capita greenhouse gas emissions and our emissions dropped almost 12% between 2010 and 2015. (Global emissions rose 8% in this same period.)
Almost 20% of our statewide energy consumption goes to heating our homes and domestic hot water.
Weatherizing our homes could reduce household heating bills by $1,000 per year.
Weatherizing our homes would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6.8 million tons.
Energize Vermont’s Windows Project provides a low-cost initial step in home weatherization.
A home weatherization program would be an economic boon for Vermont.
A weatherized home is a good candidate for fuel switching: converting from oil or propane to wood pellets or heat pumps.
Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund offer substantial incentives for the purchase of pellet boilers.
Local manufacturing of wood pellets will provide a significant opportunity for our forest product economy
The easiest, fastest, and least expensive way to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions is to weatherize our homes.
Wood pellets are delivered in bulk by truck to this outdoor pellet-storage bin. Pellets are automatically fed, on-demand, to the boiler that heats this residence.
Vermonters’ concerns about electric vehicles:
They are too expensive.
Their range is too limited.
They take too long to charge.
There aren’t enough charging stations.
They don’t work well in winter.
We need pickup trucks. (Ford plans an electric F-150 pickup, but has yet to announce a timeline, price, range, or charging time.)
Over 35% of Vermont’s energy consumption goes to transportation, but dramatic reductions in transportation-related consumption and emissions will be more expensive and harder to come by. Policy makers in Vermont are relying on a high volume of electric vehicle sales to enable the achievement of ambitious energy and emissions goals. But, people in many parts of Vermont are skeptical about the current generation of electric vehicles. Vermonters are not the only skeptics: poor sales led General Motors to announce the discontinuation of our favorite plug-in vehicle, the Chevy Volt.