How to Lower Your Energy Bills This Winter

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by Carol Weston, Efficiency Vermont

Carol Weston, outgoing executive director of Efficiency Vermont

Happy New Year to all Washington Electric Cooperative members from Efficiency Vermont. We are grateful for and proud of the strong relationship we have established within Washington Electric Cooperative and look forward to continuing our work together as we all weather the pandemic related impacts that Vermonters are feeling. We welcome your questions and feedback as we work to create easy and helpful ways for you to take steps toward a more efficient and affordable home.

Winters in Vermont are long and cold, and energy costs this time of year can put a strain on your budget. In fact, almost half of your energy bill goes to heating and cooling your home. Efficiency Vermont and WEC are here to help!

Efficiency improvements can reduce costs, keep your home cozier, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. If you are interested in doing an efficiency project this winter, here are some ideas on where to start.

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are a great place to start reducing energy costs. They use sensors and automation to learn your behavior (when you need the temperature in your home higher, or lower) which saves money, energy, and time by automatically adjusting to your habits and the changing weather. Plus, you can get $100 off the cost from Efficiency Vermont. Learn more at


For the greatest impact, complete a comprehensive weatherization project with an Efficiency Excellence Network contractor. You’ll get 50% off your project costs (up to $3,000) from Efficiency Vermont, an additional $600 from WEC, and you can pay for your project monthly with Efficiency Vermont’s low or no-interest Home Energy Loan.

Insulation and air sealing go hand in hand to save energy and money, in addition to making your space more comfortable. Air sealing is always the first step. The average home has so many air leaks, it’s like leaving a window open all winter long. Sealing those up creates a barrier so that cold air won’t flow through your insulation materials. 

If you’re not ready to go that route, Efficiency Vermont also offers a $100 Do-It-Yourself weatherization rebate, to help offset project costs. To learn more, visit  

Ductless Heat Pumps

A heat pump works like a refrigerator, but in reverse. It draws heat from the air outside, condenses it, and then redistributes the warm air into your home. Thanks to innovative advances in this technology, it now works in temperatures as low as –15 degrees F. Heat pumps are powered by electricity, making them more cost effective to operate compared to some fossil fuels, and you can get up to $900 off the cost from WEC and Efficiency Vermont. Plus! In the summer the same system works as an air conditioning unit. To find out if a heat pump is right for you check out  

More on our Home Energy Loan

 This is a fast, easy, and flexible way to break down project costs into low monthly payments. For low and moderate-income Vermonters, interest rates start at zero percent. You can use this loan to finance ducted and ductless heat pump systems, air sealing and insulation projects, solar or heat pump water heaters, central pellet boilers and furnaces, advanced wood and pellet stoves, and select ENERGY STAR appliances.

Why is financing a good idea? Efficiency upgrades will lower your energy bills now, which helps offset your monthly payments. If your energy savings are substantial, you may even see a decrease in your monthly expenses. Once your loan is paid, you’ll continue to enjoy energy savings, lower bills, and a more comfortable home.

Not where to start? Schedule a FREE Virtual Home Energy Visit with an Efficiency Vermont energy expert. Whether you own or rent, they can walk you through your options and help you identify the best ways to save.