With rising heating costs, the Energy Savings Fair draws a crowd to White River Junction

A map shows who visited the Affordable Energy Resources Fair before lunch in White River Junction on Nov. 19, 2022, as Vital Communities volunteer Sarah Jackson, of Randolph, right, and Lindy Bean, of Hanover, New Hampshire , talk at the first event to highlight ways to weatherize homes. Photo by Geoff Hansen/Valley News

Editor’s note: This story by Patrick Adrian first appeared in the Valley News on November 20.

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — An energy-saving fair on Saturday brought a variety of Upper Valley residents to Listen Community Services Dinner Hall in White River Junction, where homeowners and tenants found a full line of products, information and programs to help them combat their growing heating costs.

The Affordable Energy Resources Expo – co-hosted by Vital Communities, Efficiency Vermont, and Listen Community Services – was the first of its kind for nonprofits, an in-person event designed to connect residents to the wide range of weatherization tools and energy saving programs in the Upper Valley.

Rising costs for electricity and heating oil are leading to more people seeking help with fuel assistance or other services to lower their energy bills, said Anna Guenther, head of energy and transport project at Vital Communities.

Direct assistance programs in the Upper Valley “have been telling us since October that they are seeing a level of need that they have never seen before,” Guenther told Valley News. “And everyone was really freaking out about what winter will be like. We knew we had to do something.”

Sharon’s Patty McDonald went to her car with a collection of free weatherization products for the home, including shrink wrap insulation for windows, foam coverings for pipes, weather stripping and even weather stripping. socks.

“I’m going home,” McDonald said. “I just put this in my car and drive back to find out more about what’s available to help people like us.”

A wheel listing door prizes provided by Vital Communities, Button Up Vermont and Listen is part of the Affordable Energy Resources Fair in White River Junction on November 19, 2022. Photo by Geoff Hansen/Valley News

McDonald’s, whose income is further burdened by medical bills for herself and her mother, said every help to cut costs was helpful.

“Especially with (money for) fuel assistance dwindling, you have to do everything you can,” McDonald said. “Essentials and groceries are harder to afford now, so every penny you can get help with is greatly appreciated.”

Volunteer Michael O’Connor, who has helped educate visitors about the weathering products available, said weathering attracts people as a direct and immediate step towards the larger process of saving energy.

While attending the Affordable Energy Resources Fair in White River Junction on Nov. 19, 2022, Dave Beaufait, of Enfield, New Hampshire, visits volunteer Jo-Ellen Courtney, also of Enfield, after gathering some free material to weatherproof two doors in his house and a water pipe in a crawl space. Photo by Geoff Hansen/Valley News

“There’s this feeling that people come here and ask where they should start,” O’Connor said. “So this table has been good because you can grab something, go home and start something.”

Jo Crandall of Quechee said she primarily came to learn about Window Dressers, a Maine-based organization that makes insulated window inserts, a low-cost model of weather protection.

Crandall, who lives in a two-bedroom mobile home, takes advantage of sunlight through her windows to provide natural warmth, but at night the windows create drafts and lower the temperature inside.

“My last oil fill was over $5 a gallon,” Crandall said. “And that’s kind of scary because it’s probably going to double this year.”

Representatives from a wide range of organizations were in attendance, from weatherization service providers like COVER Home Repair to utilities like Green Mountain Power and Energy Efficiency Vermont, where visitors could learn about discounts available through the programs. Vermont Energy Savings Program.

Matt Sharpe, engineering consultant with Energy Efficiency Vermont, said this fair differed from other events in that it brought together several organizations under one roof.

“We need more awareness of what’s available to the public,” Sharpe said. “It’s nice to be able to have all of these services in one place so people can see what’s available and what will work for them.”

Don’t miss a thing. Sign up here to receive VTDigger’s weekly energy industry and environment email.

Did you know that VTDigger is a non-profit organization?

Our journalism is made possible by donations from members of readers like you. If you appreciate what we do, please contribute at our annual fundraiser and send 10 meals to the Vermont Food Bank when you do.