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Getting Started with Thermal Energy Efficiency

You may be able to increase comfort and lower your heating and cooling costs at your home or business. 

This site provides information related to thermal energy efficiency. For the purposes of this website, the term thermal energy refers to the fuels used for a building's heating, cooling and hot water needs. Whether you are ready to get started on simple projects right away or are thinking about tackling more complex ones, here are a few things that may be helpful to know before you get started:

Helpful Tips

  • Be sure to learn what is involved and what to anticipate before you begin because you may need specialized equipment or knowledge to complete an energy renovation project. 
  • Develop an energy improvement plan to prioritize the most cost-effective changes first. This may include comparing estimated savings (over time) before making investments in energy improvements. It may also include doing regular maintenance on your current systems and transitioning to more efficient equipment over time.
  • Concentrate on reducing heating and cooling needs first by air sealing and insulating to help minimize the size and cost of large purchases, such as new boilers, furnaces or solar panels. Cutting down on drafts and waste can greatly reduce the amount of heat you need to produce.  You can learn more about air sealing and insulation in the Weatherization section.
  • It often pays to use the best quality materials you can afford for the task at hand, as most efficiency upgrades will be in place a long time.  To help reduce maintenance and ensure the best performance, look for design and materials that will hold up over time.
  • If you are planning to remove existing materials (such as wet fiberglass) or add new ones (like caulk) there may be health and safety concerns to be aware of and protect yourself from. Proper ventilation is also an important safety concern, both during your work and after completion. Many buildings need new fans or other air supplies to maintain proper combustion and air quality levels.
  • There are energy improvements that you may decide to do yourself (DIY). For other projects, you might feel you don’t have the time, expertise, or proper tools to tackle the job, and you may be considering hiring a contractor. You can visit the Using a Contractor page to learn more about some things to consider before finding and hiring a contractor for your job.
  • Find out about programs and incentives that are in place to encourage efficiency. They often have specific requirements that must be followed to receive program benefits, so be sure to get all the information before starting improvements.
  • Weatherization services are available free of charge to Vermonters who meet income and other qualifications. To see if you qualify, contact the VT Office Of Economic Opportunity (OEO), whose contact information can be found on the Contact page and/or visit Vermont’s Weatherization Program website directly.

Learn More

Visit the Tools & Resources page, where you will find links to more resources, information and tools to help you with thermal energy efficiency planning.

Other tips that may help you start saving energy now:

  • During winter, keeping the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day can allow the sunlight to enter and warm your space. Keeping all draperies and shades closed at night can reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. During summer, you may want to try the opposite approach to stay cooler.
  • Select energy-efficient products when you buy new heating and cooling equipment and look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
  • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other exhaust fans after 20 minutes (or as recommended) of the time that you are finished cooking, bathing, or venting fumes.
  • When replacing exhaust fans, consider installing high-efficiency, low-noise models.
  • Make sure filters on furnaces are cleaned or replaced once a month or as recommended.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed (or as recommended) and be sure they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Eliminate trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season or as recommended.
  • Install programmable thermostats to lower the temperature and help you save energy when your building is not occupied. They can also be set to warm or cool the space before you return. 
Return to the Home page to explore the site and find more information about thermal energy efficiency. For more information on other electric, natural gas and weatherization efficiency programs in Vermont, you can visit the Contact page or contact your local energy efficiency utility, distribution utility and/or weatherization program directly.