This could be a picture of your home taken by an infrared thermal imaging camera. It looks really cool until you realize that the red spot on the roof is an area where heat is escaping your house for lack of proper insulation, and same goes for some of the areas near the front door and windows of the home. One picture speaks more than 1000 words when you can visually see $$’s leaving your house in the manner of heat loss. What can you do to keep that heat in your house, and lower your heat and cooling costs going forward?
If you live in Massachusetts, there is a non-profit program called MassSave where you, the owner or renter of a home, can request a “free” home energy assessment/audit. The MassSave program was created in the 1970s via energy conservation legislation in Massachusetts. NSTAR as well as National Grid (and other providers) put money into the MassSave fund every year and their respective customers are eligibile for a free home energy audit/asessment by a MassSave certified energy auditor.
Home Energy Audit/Assessment
The energy audits/assessments are contracted out, mainly, to a contracting firm called Conservation Services Group (CSG). CSG will schedule, then conduct a free energy audit/assessment for your home. Other firms contracted by Mass Save will conduct energy audits/assessments and may or may not charge for this.
Why would you schedule an energy audit for your home? The service is free and many of us may own a home that is not energy efficient in some way or another. Old homes, especially, can have drafts that make you feel uncomfortable during the long winters .. even when your heat thermostat is at 70+ degrees. An energy audit can help locate sources of energy inefficiency in your home and offer a plan to better insulate the home and save you money in the long run on your energy bills. Walls, doors, and windows are some of the major places where heat and cold can leave your home.
Weatherization Incentives (rebates)
NSTAR and National Grid also will give weatherization incentives to their customers who decide to insulate the walls/ceilings of their homes with blown in cellulose or spray foam insulation by certified insulation contactors. The weatherization incentive (rebate) will pay up to $2000 of the total cost of an insulation project at your home, or a minimum of 75% of the cost for the insulation project if the total cost is under $2,000. It’s a great deal and really helps keep the heat in your home. A potential $3,000 insulation project for your home will cost only $1000 after the rebate is applied.
In 2009/2010, my house had its first energy audit/assessment and the auditor left me with an explanation of how air enters and leaves the house, and where the majority of heat loss occurs (through the roof). He also left me with an estimate for how much the ”blown in” cellulose would cost to insulate the walls. The cost was around $3,500 and it was very comforting to see the $2,000 weatherization credit applied to that cost. A representative of Conservation Services Group, who is the prime contractor for home energy assessments and who contracts out the weatherization projects, told me that we can apply the weatherization credit for each fiscal year to help defray the cost of any major projects. For example, if the cost to insulate your walls was $5,000, he says you could use the weatherization credit of $2,000 for the current fiscal year, do half of the job, then have the second half of the job completed in the next fiscal year and have another $2,000 credit. Make sure to verify this information with MassSave.
The weatherization incentives can really bring down the cost of insulating the walls/ceilings, etc., of your home. I would highly recommend that you look into the zero percent financing that is available for your project(s). MassSave offers financing through a program called the Heat Loan. Learn more about it in the follow-on post.
Author: Willard Cunningham, real estate broker in the Boston metro area
Willard Realty Group, Inc., is a ful service real estate brokerage representing the interests of buyers, sellers, and renters in the Boston metro area. You can reach Willard at 617.921.4758 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org