Green Mountain Power’s eHome Initiative

The Energy Home of the Future: Green Mountain Power’s eHome Initiative

borkowskis

The Borkowski family outside their home. Photo courtesy – Green Mountain Power

More Vermonters than ever are seeking ways to reduce their energy costs, cut their fossil fuel consumption and become more energy independent. The opportunities lie in how they heat their homes, power their lives or get where they need to go. A new program at Vermont’s largest utility, Green Mountain Power (GMP), is aimed at helping their customers implement whole home energy solutions to achieve these goals.

GMP’s ‘eHome’ initiative is an inclusive approach, hopefully making it easy, affordable and attractive for Vermonters to embrace comprehensive clean energy solutions. They are pairing smart technologies with existing incentives and additional technical support to help their customers reduce their costs and increase their independence. The various services that make up this effort have existed in Vermont for a while, but the innovative element of the eHome initiative is in streamlining – helping interested people navigate the array of options available and make the best investments for their individual needs.

In 2014, GMP launched the eHome initiative in partnership with several organizations near their Rutland headquarters. The goal was to work with their expert partners in every area of home efficiency, and provide a packaged solution that minimized financial and practical burdens on homeowners. After a quick search, they found a family with the perfect home to serve as their pilot project. The Borkowskis, a family of four in downtown Rutland, agreed to let GMP perform an extreme home makeover of sorts, and the work began. Among the partners were several local contractors, Neighborworks of Western Vermont, Efficiency Vermont, Samesun of Vermont, and Weatherization Works. Together, they developed a plan to fully weatherize the home while integrating solar power, heat pump climate controls, smart thermostats, LED lighting and more! Neighborworks of Western Vermont financed the expense of the work through GMP’s on-bill repayment.

The Borkowskis were able to cut their heating oil use tremendously: they haven’t refilled their tank in the 9 months since the project was completed, and they have cut their electricity usage and bill as well using efficient heat pumps. They now have a home that is evenly heated in the winter, efficiently cooled in the summer, and provides a model for the rest of Vermont and beyond. The all-in-one approach, working with a diversity of organizations, simplified what could have been years of separate projects, making it possible for a working family to live in the “Energy Home of the Future.”

GMP hopes to help far more people take this step. They are aiming to complete 100 ‘eHomes’ in Rutland and 10 in Montpelier as pilots and then roll the program out across Vermont, working closely with many organizations, businesses, communities and energy committees to demonstrate the value of a whole-home approach. The ultimate goal is to support Vermonters in minimizing their carbon footprint, help people save money, and to provide predictable and affordable electricity bills by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and better informing customers on their energy use habits.

To learn more about GMP’s eHome initiative, read the press release and visit their website. Stay tuned for the Energy Action Network’s upcoming film on the Borkowski Home, and for more information from VECAN about the path to whole-home efficiency.

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