This week marks the close of Vital Communities and volunteers’ 2020 Vermont Energy Savings project in seven towns in the Vermont side of the Upper Valley. Vital Communities partnered with Sustainable Woodstock (serving Woodstock, Hartland, and Bridgewater) and town energy committees in Hartford, Thetford, Norwich, and Sharon, to connect Vermont residents with energy savings programs that help them save money on their energy bills and improve home comfort. Vital Communities hosted weekly virtual meetings with volunteers to share best practices on communicating program information, coordinated a direct mail campaign. Also, with the help of volunteers, we developed the project’s web page and Energy Savings Guide to inform people about weatherization programs and other energy assistance available in the Upper Valley.
Already, volunteers have managed to make a big difference for their neighbors. Through a series of online and mailed surveys, we learned that some residents had no prior knowledge of programs like free weatherization or home repair grants, while others were aware but needed a bit of encouragement, in the form of a phone call from a fellow neighbor, to get the ball rolling and submit their application. As a result of this outreach campaign, residents have applied for weatherization programs and low-interest loans for home repairs.
And while the main goal of the campaign was to help folks find ways to save money on their energy expenses and feel more comfortable in their home, we also did something that may be just as important this year: we nurtured our community and built bridges between volunteers, towns of the Upper Valley, and neighbors.
We are looking forward to partnering with volunteers in the towns of Chelsea, Randolph, Rockingham, and Bethel in the coming weeks to help residents in those towns learn about the various ways they can keep warm and still save on their heating bills. Volunteers will continue to rely on virtual outreach tools like direct mail, listserv posts, brochures, posters and phone calls to connect with residents and share information. We remain hopeful that we’ll eventually be able to do in-person outreach in 2022, the final year of this three-year pilot project.
This work is made possible by the generous support of Canaday Family Charitable Trust, Jane’s, Trust Foundation, Block Family Foundation, Lintilhac Foundation, High Meadows Fund.