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Thetford HEAT Door2Door Outreach Incentivizes Home Weatherization

 
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Thetford HEAT Volunteers
Photo credit: Tig Tillinghast

Source: Joel Legunn

In the fall of 2011, the Thetford Energy Committee (TEC) recruited and trained more than 50 Home Energy Action Team (HEAT) volunteers to carry out a comprehensive outreach and education campaign around home weatherization which tripled the usual number of homes weatherized annually in just 6 months.

The Thetford Door2Door Outreach Program was implemented in a pilot phase of 100 homes first, followed by evaluation, change and subsequent visits to the remaining 1000 Thetford homes. To accomplish this the TEC:

  • Notified the town by mail ahead of the door2door outreach so homeowners were not surprised by volunteer visits.
  • Volunteers carried tote bags containing CFLs and literature, with an identifiable program logo previously used on the letter.
  • Recruited volunteers from schools, boy & girl scouts, church, neighborhood and civic groups, and from the more than 70 volunteers who have helped on previous SERG/TEC Thetford projects
  • Trained volunteers in messaging of benefits of weatherization programs and to run energy calculations on homes visited

Door2Door Volunteer tasks included:

  •  Distributing information about the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) and Do-It-Yourself programs, available technical and financial resources and energy saving tips
  • Informing homeowners about financing options and incentives.
  • Distributing a free $150 discount coupon toward HPwES services to each homeowner who expresses interest in the program
  • Giving one free CFL as our “foot-in-the-door” (and an encouragement to participate in the ongoing project) to each homeowner willing to install the bulb at the time of visit. 
  • Calculating BTU/square foot home energy intensity for homeowners
  • Informing homeowners about upcoming Weatherization Expo and opportunities to meet service providers, financiers and learn more about weatherization process
  • Collecting names, contact info, fuel use and cost to be entered on database from all homeowners willing to participate in the program

In addition to Thetford HEAT volunteers hand delivering information packets to 650 Thetford homes, TEC mailed information packets to the Town’s remaining 350 homes. HEAT volunteers also distributed and installed 158 free 25-watt CFLs in residents’ homes. Over their lifetimes these CFLs should save 106,650 kWh of electricity, $13,864 in electric charges, and 81 tons of CO2 emissions. And they collected home energy use surveys on 240 Thetford homes.

Education is Key

Following the home visits, we organized an Energy Expo. The Expo included opportunities to meet and talk with weatherization contractors, solar and wood dealers and financing representatives, attend workshops, see demonstrations of weatherization measures being installed and learn from a local theater group why “Weatherization IS Sexy!”  The first 50 attendees won door prizes and there was be a drawing to win a free home energy assessment, worth $450 from Thetford residents who filled out a home energy survey.

Thetford Home Weatherization Incentives Program (THWIP) – The TEC received a federal stimulus grant that was used to provide matching incentives to those provided by Efficiency Vermont to promote home weatherization. Results of the THWIP program included:

  • 18 homes were weatherized and received THWIP incentives
  • Average energy savings per house – 26.42%
  • Projected annual energy cost savings for all participants - $15,538
  • Projected average annual energy cost savings per participant - $914

When TEC surveyed weatherization participants to try to identify what measures and reasons were influential in persuading them to weatherize their homes, the Thetford HEAT Door2Door program scored very high, along with the Thetford Home Weatherization Incentives Program (THWIP), and Efficiency Vermont Incentives.