Sponsored by Focus Real Estate
Energy efficiency in one’s home is important at any time of year. As winter approaches, many homeowners in Massachusetts may take another look at improving the comfort and efficiency of their home to stay cozy throughout the colder months and to keep those winter heating bills under control. But often, homeowners are unsure about steps they can take to be as energy efficient as possible, and they recognize that remediation costs—to update existing appliances or add more insulation, for example—can quickly add up.
Many Massachusetts residents may be unaware that the state’s Mass Save Program offers a range of incentives and rebates that can help them improve home energy efficiency. It's important to note that residents are already paying for this program through their home energy bills—so why not take advantage of some of these offerings, while increasing home comfort, helping the environment and saving yourself some money at the same time?
Through the Mass Save Program, energy specialists visit individual homes for a no-cost assessment of insulation levels, heating and water-heating equipment, electronics, appliances and any other items that use energy in the home. Following the visit, they generate a report that suggests specific home improvements, details state programs in which homeowners can participate and provides a sense of the money that might be available to individual homeowners through these programs to help fund the work.
The offerings are numerous. Among the most generous: Residents could qualify for a HEAT loan of up to $25,000, with 0 percent financing, toward qualified energy-efficient home improvements, with terms up to seven years. HEAT loan-eligible services include heating system replacement, water heaters (including solar options), central air conditioning and heat pumps, and insulation and replacement windows.
Insulation, in fact, might be one of the best deals available through the program -- in other words, it might be time for your drafty attic and/or energy-leaking exterior walls to get an upgrade! Insulation and air sealing can decrease home energy use and keep residents warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Through the end of 2018, many homeowners may be eligible through Mass Save to receive 75 percent off insulation projects, with no incentive limit. For example, a project that costs $3,500 might be eligible for $2,625 in incentives, leaving the homeowner with a much-more-manageable $875 payment for the work. Depending on household income, a homeowner might even qualify for up to 100 percent off insulation improvements—and homeowners can apply for 0 percent financing through the HEAT loan for eligible insulation upgrades. It's also worth noting that homeowners may be eligible to have air leaks sealed in drafty areas at no cost.
The early replacement of older (but still functioning) household heating and cooling equipment can also score homeowners a whole range of rebates. Program participants are eligible for a rebate of up to $3,250 if they replace their natural gas forced hot water boiler that is at least 30 years old, while a steam boiler replacement can net a generous $1,900 rebate. Thinking ahead to summer? Central air conditioning systems at least 12 years old may qualify for $750 in rebates. The Mass Save website includes a full list of early-replacement possibilities; if your equipment does not meet the minimum age requirements or is currently nonfunctional, you may still qualify for standard rebates up to $1,600.
Residents may also qualify for cash back when they replace older appliances with newer ENERGY STAR rated versions—including $350 to $400 back on a washing machine, $50 back for an electric clothes dryer, and $150 to $200 back for a refrigerator.
Even simple fixes aimed at enhancing energy efficiency qualify under the program. Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which use 80 to 90 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, can last 15 to 25 years, and are eligible for instant price discounts when purchased from a participating retailer or through Mass Save's online store.
One more important note: The program is not for homeowners alone. Renters in homes with one to four units may also qualify for a no-cost energy assessment and a range of rebates and incentives—including some available only to renters.
Residents interested in learning how to be more energy-efficient can visit www.MassSave.com to take a free online assessment, which can help them identify their current energy usage, review efficiency recommendations and available rebates, and receive an estimate of potential cost savings. The assessment can also help indicate whether their home is a good candidate for an in-home assessment. To schedule an in-home visit, homeowners can also call 866-527-SAVE (7283).
For more information on the Mass Save Program and how an in-home assessment can benefit homeowners, watch the accompanying video featuring Erik Gould and Randal Engelmann, partners at Focus Real Estate in Jamaica Plain, talking with Bill Stack, energy efficiency spokesperson at Eversource.