Interview with Katrina Wilson, Vice President of Operations and Sales
Green Energy Times Staff
1. What is your area of expertise?
As designers and installers of solar and heat pump systems, our expertise is getting to know our customers and their homes, while we discuss their needs and desires in detail.
We have extensive training and certifications in calculating heating and cooling loads, as well as designing and installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and heat pumps (air-to-water, water-to-water, or air-to-air).
Also, we have installed a number of off- and on-grid battery storage systems, including flooded lead acid, AGM, and lithium-ion. We are certified installers of the Sonnen, LG Chem, and SimpliPhi home energy storage systems.
2. What projects do people try to do themselves that really should be done professionally?
We recommend having a trained and certified professional for each step of the way in bringing your home to net zero. Tightening up a home too much without the correct equipment to test the airflow can lead to injurious health consequences.
Installing solar and heat pumps requires precautions for safety. Making a mistake designing, wiring and installing either a PV system or a heat pump can lead to serious consequences.
3. If you could only choose one type of project to reduce your carbon footprint, what would it be and why?
If we could only choose one type of project to reduce a household carbon footprint, we would choose weatherization to bring the household heating and cooling load down as far as possible within its financial means.
This will not only save on energy consumption, lowering the carbon footprint but will enable a reduction in the size the renewable energy system needed to power, heat, or cool a home.
4. What is it in your field of specialty that is most valuable (related to energy efficiency) that our readers ought to know about?
We believe our valued specialty is our knowledge of and passion for the net-zero home, and what it takes to get to net zero with limited financial means.
Our business model has been “net zero” since 2008. This concept is incorporating both in energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. For example, we can match a cold climate heat pump system with PVs to lower a home’s carbon footprint to as close to zero as possible within a budget.
5. Why should people use an Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN) contractor over another contractor?
Customers should use EEN contractors over other contractors because of the standards that Efficiency Vermont holds their members to with regard to customer satisfaction, continuing education and certifications.
6. What are the best ways to finance projects (or what incentives are available) for residential or commercial projects?
The best way to finance home projects is through home equity loans. If you are not in a position to take advantage of a home equity loan, Efficiency Vermont has the Home Energy Loan. This loan is facilitated through the Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU), Opportunities Credit Union and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont. You can find more information at https://www.efficiencyvermont.com/services/financing/homes/home-energy-loan. Efficiency Vermont in partnership with VSECU also offers a Business Energy Loan for businesses, non-profit organizations, municipalities, farms, and owners of rental housing needing to finance energy-efficiency projects. See https://www.vsecu.com/financial/business-loans/clean-energy-loan for more information.
For solar PV systems, there is a federal tax credit of 26% of the project cost for 2020. Incentives for heat pumps can be found in the Incentives section on pages 14 and 15 in Green Energy Times. In addition, eligible rural small businesses and agricultural producers can apply for renewable energy grants and loans through the USDA (known as the REAP program). These grants provide up to 25% of total project costs and loan guarantees on loans up to 75% of total project costs. The details of the REAP program can be found at http://bit.ly/REAP-loan.