During a news conference Thursday, Gov. Peter Shumlin and the department announced an initiative to cut down on the cost to finance thermal efficiency projects. The administration expects the money to leverage up to $6.5 million, which could be used to serve up to 1,300 homes, according to a news release.
"Investments in energy efficiency save Vermont families money on their fuel bills, but also support local jobs, strengthen the economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Shumlin said a statement. "Everybody wins with this investment."
The initiative could drive down the cost to finance projects by subsidizing interest rates, for example. The department will issue a request for proposals for interested banks and credit unions. After which, the state will decide how to leverage current funds to support financing projects.
George Twigg, director of public affairs for of Efficiency Vermont, said one of the largest challenges for homeowners interested in thermal efficiently is the upfront cost.
"These things pay for themselves in the long run, but you have an up front cost," Twigg said.
Efficiency Vermont, the state's efficiency utility that subsidizes thermal efficiency and weatherization projects, provides $2,000 for projects that can cost up to $7,000, he said.