Active Efficiency in Action

The best way to understand the value of Active Efficiency is to see it in action. There are many examples that demonstrate the potential of Active Efficiency. Between the economic, social, and environmental benefits, the hard work that goes into making these examples successful is something to be celebrated.

Efficiency Vermont: Heating Electrification Program and Flexible Load Management Pilot

Vermont’s cold winters, old building stock, and high cost of fuel oil and propane contribute significantly to its high energy burden, ranging from 6-20% of household income, according to a 2019 study. Efficiency Vermont’s energy efficiency programs help ease this high burden.

Heating electrification

In its 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan, the Vermont Department of Public Service identified building electrification as a key strategy to help meet Vermont’s fossil fuel and emission reduction goals and ease the state’s high energy burden. Through its cold weather air source heat pump program, Efficiency Vermont uses midstream incentives for wholesale distributors, direct bill credits to customers, and income-based bonuses to advance heat pump adoption. This program achieved the highest market penetration of heat pumps in the Northeast according to data for 2017. In that year, Efficiency Vermont incentivized more than 4,000 air-source heat pumps, achieving a 1.26% installation rate (as a percentage of homes).

Flexible load management pilot

In 2018, Efficiency Vermont published a year-long investigation into consumer products and energy management systems that might complement distribution utility demand response services. That same year, Efficiency Vermont partnered with Washington Electric Co-op (WEC) on a two-year pilot program called PowerShift that aims to enroll 100 heat pump water heaters and 100 electric resistance water heaters with WiFi-enabled thermostats for demand response. In the pilot, customers’ water heaters are controlled to preheat tanks prior to expected peak events for heat pumps or reduce power use for resistance water heaters. In its first year, the pilot has achieved three of its five goals, which focused on partnership and technology demonstration. Additional goals for the pilot are to quantify the value of the flexible load management to WEC customers and identifying barriers. This will help Efficiency Vermont understand pathways for flexible load management as part of Efficiency Vermont’s Demand Resource Plan for 2021-2023.