Ask The Energy Coach

Coop CurrentsCoop News

June/July 2024

Ask the Energy Coach: One-stop shopping for energy upgrade savings?

Dear Energy Coach: I’m making some energy upgrades at home and in a separate rental property I own. I can’t keep track of changes in every federal, state, or utility incentive, but I know there’s money out there. I don’t want to miss out on potentially thousands of dollars in savings. Do you have all these at your fingertips? Does anyone?

The Energy Coach is a big fan of a savings calculator published online by Rewiring America. 

Now that very calculator is available on Efficiency Vermont’s website, which is good news for WEC members and all Vermonters in your position. When the savings calculator is embedded on Vermont’s energy efficiency utility site, you really do have one-stop shopping. 

You can navigate to the calculator easily from the homepage: look for the icon marked “Rewiring America Incentive Calculator.”

How it works: Plug in some household information, including your income, household size, filing status, zip, and utility. Check off all the projects you’re interested in. The calculator immediately shows you federal, state, and utility-level incentives available to you, and links through to each offer for details. For example, some incentives are available as point of sale discounts, some as rebates, some as tax credits. The savings calculator clearly shows what’s available, what type of incentive it is, and how to access it.

WEC members, if you have electric upgrades planned, you will need a transformer that can support your future electric load. Contact WEC before you add any significant load—anything that requires a 240 volt outlet—and contact me with any additional questions.

Ask your energy questions and get energy answers:

Click here for the savings calculator and resources from Efficiency Vermont.

February-March 2024

Ask the Energy Coach: How do I balance outage preparation with reducing my carbon footprint?

Dear Energy Coach: My New Year’s resolution is to reduce my personal carbon footprint as much as I can within my own power and budget. I am starting with a list of opportunities and obstacles. One major concern I have is that if I rely too much on electricity for everything, power outages will really put a dog in my canoe. Can you help me get started?

It’s a great resolution, and financially, it’s great timing. Federal funding through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) means incentives are more generous than we’ve seen before. Your priorities will depend on what you currently have and your lifestyle. Have you had a home energy audit? Are you preparing to switch from a combustion engine vehicle to an electric vehicle? What is the status of your water heater? I’m happy to walk through these with you individually. In the broadest possible terms, though, here’s where I would begin:

  • Know your 2023 household income. Incentives are frequently tied to income.
  • Check the IRA savings calculator at
  • If you’ve already had an energy audit, those results can help you prioritize your changes in terms of bang-for-buck. See what resources Efficiency Vermont offers for the improvements you want to make. If you haven’t had an energy audit, you can use their site to find a contractor to provide one.
  • As you know, some changes require planning ahead – especially if you’re adding to your electric load. If you’re adding new electric devices, follow my checklist. 

You have an excellent point with your concern about relying solely on electricity when outages remain a reality. The only way through this particular dilemma is preparation. Again, that will look different person to person. It will help you to understand the amount of backup you need: a well-stocked outage kit and a mutual aid agreement with neighbors? A battery option that can power a phone and laptop? A full-house generator system? Whatever you need to do to be prepared for multi-day outages, take the time to do it. It will make outages that much more bearable, wherever you are on your path toward carbon-free.

December 2023-January 2024

Ask the Energy Coach: Why can’t I get my Level 2 charger for my EV now?

Dear Energy Coach: I bought an EV and have been making do with Level 1 charging. According to the load sheet, I need a transformer upgrade, but my EV has a 7.2 kw onboard charger, which isn’t close to the 12 kw load of the Level 2 charger that would overload my transformer. What gives? Why can’t you give me a Level 2 charger set to 7.2 kw now?

Member, I hear you. It’s annoying to be in your position. First, let’s make sure we all know what equipment we’re talking about here: the onboard charger is the device within your EV that changes AC power from your home electricity to DC power in order to recharge your EV’s battery. When you charge at a “fast-charging” station, you apply DC power directly to your battery, bypassing your onboard charger; but when you charge at home, you use AC power and the EV’s onboard charger.

The reason you’re on the transformer upgrade list is because your cooperative utility must assume that the maximum capacity your device or vehicle can handle is what it will handle. So even if you’re at 7.2 kw, the Level 2 charger can power up to 12 kw. WEC, along with any other electric utility, has to assume that you will use 12 kw, because that’s what the charger can handle. For comparison purposes, a Level 1 charger powers 2.4 kw or less.

So our offer to our members is based on an additional 12 kw demand. And that offer is this: we’ll provide you with a Level 2 charger, at no cost to you, which has six settings up to 12 kw. That’s the good news. The bad news is, if the assumed new maximum demand of 12 kw of new load is more than your transformer can handle, you need to get on the list for an upgrade. And because the supply chain is still pinched, it may take a while.

There’s a workaround. I want to be honest with you, since I understand the urgency, and I also want you to understand that it carries risks.

Since you’re waiting for a transformer upgrade, you may decide you don’t want to wait for the 12 kw charger WEC will give you. You’ll buy your own, and you’ll install it at 7.2 kw to avoid imposing the 12 kw load. And you can do that, though I encourage extreme caution and a thorough understanding of what you’re doing. If you do overload your transformer, and you blow the fuse, you will cause an outage. Crews will have to come fix it. And this will cost you money.

That’s the takeaway. If you buy your own charger and install it so you’re well within your load capacity, you’ve got your Level 2 charger, and you’re ahead of the game. But if you blow the fuse, you’re behind the game, and you paid out of pocket for a Level 2 charger.

Have an energy question? Ask the Energy Coach:

November 2, 2023

Ask the Energy Coach: When should I buy an EV?

Dear Energy Coach: My current car is a gasser, but my next will be electric. My question is, should I buy now or later for the best incentives?

You’re in good company. Anecdotally, I know of many WEC members and Vermonters who have decided their current combustion engine vehicle will be their last.

There’s more to take into account than just incentives, but let’s start there: Incentives are not going away. In fact, changes through the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are making those incentives more accessible. Previously, the $7,500 credit for a new EV was an incentive you claimed on your taxes, usually well after your purchase, and had value if your tax liability was high enough for it to matter, but not so high you were ineligible for it. So, it was most useful to higher-but-not-highest-income individuals.

The change that takes effect January 1, 2024 switches things around on the back end so that for buyers who are income-eligible – that’s if you make under $150,000 singly or $300,000 filing jointly – you get that $7,500 at point of sale.

So that’s a big carrot. When you’re ready to buy, I urge you to check in with me and with our friends at to see if you are eligible for other incentives.

Now for the other piece of the pie: Don’t go installing any Level 2 EV chargers until you know your transformer can handle it. The good news is, if your average miles per day is 50 or less, Level 1 can work – and a Level 1 can easily recharge a plug-in hybrid. But most all-electric drivers will eventually want a Level 2. Take a look at my checklist below and follow the steps. Complete that load sheet to be eligible for a Level 2 charger provided by WEC at no cost to you (to be installed by your contractor).

For more information about the EV tax credit change:

Have an energy question? Ask the Energy Coach:

September 6, 2023

Ask the Energy Coach: Is there an industry standard for EV charging connectors?

Dear Energy Coach: I am buying an EV, and I want to know where I can charge it. Can I charge a non-Tesla at a Tesla charging station now? Why isn’t there an industry standard for this stuff?

Let’s start now and then look to the future. Yes: an industry standard is emerging, and it looks like it’s the North American Charging Standard, or NACS. That’s the EV charge connector developed by Tesla. There are several reasons for that, but it’s generally accepted to be easier to handle and to provide a faster charge cycle – thereby providing a better experience for you.

Most other EV manufacturers used the Combined Charging System (CCS) connector, but Ford is switching to NACS. Meanwhile, Tesla is modifying its Supercharger charging network so EV drivers can charge with non-Tesla connector adapters.

I agree with you that an industry standard is a good thing. Standards will enable more consumer choices of charging options. What I mean is that the tech is moving out of the wall and into the vehicle: bidirectional charging, which I discussed in the last issue, will become part of the charger, and not something the EV driver has to install separately. It’s similar with batteries. If EV manufacturers promote using batteries for uses other than driving – and they are starting to, with awareness around bidirectional charging and using EVs as backup power sources – then the battery, and the tech protecting it, is becoming part of the manufacturer’s scope.

So it’s not just about using the Supercharger network at the grocery store. It means that as the standard develops, you won’t need extra boxes installed at your house and all the additional charges associated with that. The box will be in the vehicle. And that opens up accessibility and choices, especially when bidirectional charging becomes prevalent.

One more thing. If you’re planning to install a Level 2 charger for that new EV, call WEC first to see if you can handle the additional load, or if you need to get on the list for upsizing your transformer. You can certainly charge with a Level 1 charger – which uses a standard 110 volt outlet – in the meantime.

Have an energy question? Ask the Energy Coach:

December 20, 2022

Ask the Energy Coach: When will incentives resume?

Dear Energy Coach: I just installed a hot water heat pump and want to take advantage of WEC’s incentives. When will they be available again?

You can submit the invoices for any eligible equipment upgrades now – in fact, WEC hopes you will. All eligible equipment upgrades dated from September through December 31, 2022 will be honored in the first quarter of 2023.

The reason we paused incentives is to resolve a cash flow issue while the Co-op faces a rate increase. But, because of our membership’s interest in upgrading to efficient devices, our Co-op already met the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (Tier III) targets.

We will introduce a new slate of incentives to help members transition from fossil fuel to WEC’s 100% renewable electricity in 2023. In the meantime, submit your invoices for any eligible upgrades made in 2022. Call the Coach if you have any questions.

Have an energy question? Ask the Energy Coach:

June 29, 2022

Energy coach: Call before you buy an EV

Ready to buy your first electric vehicle? Call WEC before you drive it home. Electric vehicle charging increases your electric load.

The Energy Coach’s checklist:

  1. Look at your circuit breaker box. Is it a 100 or 200 amp box? How many remaining slots are there? Take a photo.
  2. Call or email the Energy Coach to inquire about adding an EV to your peak load. If you email, attach the photo.
  3. WEC’s teams will assess your service. You’ll learn what, if any, work needs to be done to prepare your home electrically for EV load, about how long it will take, and how much it will cost. Any work you may require from a qualified electrician is not part of this equation.
  4. The Energy Coach also knows about available EV incentives. It never hurts to ask.

Contact the Energy Coach today: 802-224-2329 or