The Mad River Valley has been selected to host a home energy savings program by Efficiency Vermont. The Vermont Community Energy Mobilization (VCEM) Pilot Project is a community-based volunteer program to help residents improve energy efficiency and save money in their homes.

The goals of the VCEM program are to recruit and train volunteers to conduct free home energy-efficiency site visits to help homeowners identify needed efficiency improvements. Efficiency Vermont will cover the costs of volunteer training and energy-saving products for direct installation in the homes of program participants.

Locally, the project is being spearheaded by the Valley Futures Network (VFN) energy group, the Carbon Shredders and the Mad River Valley Planning District.

"In Vermont, and particularly here in The Valley, we take care of each other, especially when times are difficult. This is the time when these kinds of actions are needed the most," said Dennis Derryberry, chair of the VFN energy group. "This is a great opportunity to learn some skills, give back to your friends and neighbors, and cut energy use and carbon emissions in The Valley while helping others to save on their energy bills. That's a great combination."

A preliminary meeting to organize volunteer efforts will be held in conjunction with the VFN energy group meeting on Wednesday, January 21, starting at 6 p.m. at the Wait House in Waitsfield. Anyone interested in volunteering to help move this project forward is welcome to attend this meeting. For more information about the January 21 VFN meeting please call Dennis Derryberry at 496-7662.

Local organizers hope to have 50 or more trained volunteers to conduct the home site visits. The number of trained volunteers will directly impact the number of homes that can be visited and energy-saving measures implemented. Volunteer training will likely occur between early and mid-February, and attendance at that training session will be required to conduct volunteer home energy assessments. The date and location of the volunteer training session will be announced next week.

Mad River Valley residents interested in having a free energy-efficiency assessment performed on their home should call Derryberry at 496-7662 or Dan Story or Erin Russell-Story at 496-2767. Efforts will be made to accommodate as many requests as program funding and volunteer resources will allow.

However, the number of homes that can be visited will be somewhat limited, so preference will be given to homes showing the greatest need for energy-efficiency improvements and residents demonstrating the most financial need.  All site visits and assessments are projected to be complete by mid-April.