Take a deeper dive on your energy efficiency options
Do you live in a chilly, leaky, costly home? It's likely that this problem can be solved with a few easy energy efficiency measures.
Take advantage of state programs
Most Massachusetts and Rhode Island residents can access free and low-cost energy-saving services from Mass Save and Energy Wise, the two state's energy efficiency programs. Among other services, programs provide free Home Energy Assessments, a one- or two-hour home visit with a certified energy professional who will install free energy-saving measures such as LED lightbulbs, smart power strips, programmable thermostats, and low-flow shower heads. They will also produce a report describing any other Mass Save incentives that might help make your home more energy-efficient.
Mass Save and Energy Wise are no-cost services that residents can request in multiple ways.
- Rhode Island: call Energy Wise at 1-888-633-7947.
- Eastern Massachusetts (except Cape Cod): call Mass Save at 866-527-7283.
- Cape Cod residents: call Cape Light Compact at 800-797-6699.
- Western Massachusetts residents: call Center for Ecological Technology at 413- 586-7350 x229
- New Hampshire residents: click here for information about energy efficiency programs in N.H.
- If you live in a town with a municipal utility: call them directly to find out if they offer energy assessments or call the Muni HELPS program at 888-333-7525
- If you receive Fuel Assistance:
- Massachusetts residents call your local CAP agency to request free weatherization services. If you receive an income-eligible discount on your utility bill, please call 866-537-7267.
- Rhode Island residents call your local CAP agency to request free weatherization services. If you receive an income-eligible discount on your utility bill, please call 401-941-0774.
- If you live in a building with five apartments or more: call Mass Save’s Multi-family Program at 1-800-594-7277 or Energy Wise's at 1-888-633-7947.
Consider updating your heating equipment
One way to help offset the rising cost of energy and significantly reduce heating costs is to replace your aging heating equipment with a new high-efficiency unit. Mass Save incentives and Energy Wise incentives can shrink the cost difference between a run-of-the-mill replacement and a high-efficiency one. Also, some Massachusetts residents may be eligible for extra incentives if your furnace is at least 12 years old or your boiler is at least 30 years old. With rebates and interest-free loans from Mass Save or Energy Wise, you will find the whole project is less costly than you think.
You may be eligible for 0% financing through the Mass Save HEAT Loan Program or the National Grid HEAT Loan Program. The HEAT Loan Program provides customers the opportunity to apply for a 0% interest loan from participating lenders to assist with the installation of qualified energy efficient improvements in their homes. If you meet eligibility requirements and receive lender approval, you may receive a 0% interest loan of $500 to $25,000 for energy-saving upgrades, such as a new furnace or boiler, and spread out the payments over 2–7 years. Also, for a limited time, the cap on HEAT Loans has been increased to $50,000 for Massachusetts residents!
See if you qualify for the HEAT Loan
In order to qualify for a HEAT Loan, you must have a no-cost Mass Save or Energy Wise site visit to confirm the efficiency on your current system. During your visit, your Energy Specialist will evaluate your equipment and determine eligibility. If your existing equipment is eligible for a HEAT Loan, you will receive a HEAT Loan Intake Form. Once you have estimates for a replacement system, you can take the HEAT Loan Intake Form and the estimate to a participating bank.
Lighting accounts for 10% of the U.S. residential electricity load, a fraction that continues to shrink thanks to the widespread adoption of CFLs and LEDs. Because of their increased durability and versatility, and decreasing prices, LEDs are quickly replacing CFLs in the marketplace.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and LEDs (or Light Emitting Diodes) use 66% - 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light. Using less electricity results in lower electricity costs and reduces the environmental impact associated with the production of electricity.
In order to further maximize savings on lighting, make sure that lights are turned off when not in use. While this sounds simple, it can be difficult to manage. Therefore, you should consider installing motion sensors (activated only when someone is in a room), dimmers, and timers on lights.
Although more expensive than CFLs, LEDs last at least 25,000 hours (about 22 years), have a minimum three-year warranty, and are durable. LEDs also come in a greater variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and ability to work with dimmer switches. Plus, they’re mercury-free. However, not all LEDs are created equal, so look for ones that are ENERGY STAR qualified.
The most cost-effective targets for conversion are 60-100W bulbs used several hours a day, such as kitchen lights or outdoor security lights. These lights form the largest percent of your total lighting load.
CFLs and LEDs run cooler than incandescents and halogens, minimizing fire hazards and reducing the cost of cooling in summer.
How to get efficient lighting
Most utilities and state energy efficiency programs offer free or discounted LEDs and CFLs. In Massachusetts, residents can receive up to 10 free LEDs when they have a Mass Save no-cost Home Energy Assessment or Energy Wise no-cost Home Energy Assessment.
Home offices and entertainment centers
You can reduce energy waste in any home office or home entertainment centers through three simple ways.
Prioritize ENERGY STAR models when you purchase equipment such as TVs, game systems, modems, speakers, computers, and printers.
1.Use any energy-saving settings embedded within your electronics
2.Use “smart” power strips to network related electronics and control the stand-by power demands that cannot be controlled through energy-saving settings.
3.Many electronic products continue to draw power from the wall even when they are powered off. Since it's not always practical to unplug these items whenever you leave your desk, "smart" power strips can effectively do so for you. There are three types of "smart" power strips:
- Timer-equipped: These power strips have outlets that are controlled by programmable timers. Devices plugged into them can be scheduled to automatically turn off or on at designated times of day or night.
- Occupancy sensing: Occupancy sensing power strips have outlets that are controlled by a motion detector. Devices plugged into them can automatically turn off or on in response to your physical presence, or after a user-defined period of time elapses (e.g., anywhere from 30 seconds to 60 minutes).
- Current sensing: These power strips can automatically turn several outlets off or on when they detect that a monitor (plugged into the "master outlet") either enters a low powered sleep mode, is turned off, or is turned on. Used in combination with monitor power management features, these power strips can turn just about any electric device off and on automatically.
Leaving computers and monitors on when not in use wastes energy and money. Power management does not have a negative effect on the useful life of today’s computers and monitors. On the contrary; when equipment powers down, it generates less heat, collects less dust, reduces mechanical stress and promotes a longer and more reliable life for the computer and monitors. An additional benefit of turning computers completely off when not in use is increased security, since files and emails cannot be accessed.
Reducing, recycling, buying recycled
Reducing consumption and reusing items as much as possible indirectly decreases energy use. Recycling saves existing resources while simultaneously reducing waste streams and conserving 70-90% of the energy needed to produce products from virgin materials. In general, purchases should be targeted when possible to items using little or no packaging. For those items with packaging, look for those that are biodegradable, made of recycled materials, or harvested in ways that are of minimal impact to the environment. More information on energy reduction strategies can be found here.
Trees are useful in the landscape design for heating and cooling buildings. Trees provide evaporative cooling in the vicinity where they are located (a difference of 3-5 degrees F) and much-needed shade in the summer. Strategically planted trees and shrubs can significantly reduce energy bills and fossil fuel use by providing shade in summer, while allowing sun through and providing wind barriers in winter. Trees add beauty and value to almost any property and store carbon, the main ingredient in carbon dioxide. Each tree can absorb 3-15 lbs. of carbon dioxide. Trees also enhance local landscaping in ways that might encourage more pedestrian traffic in city centers and other main roadways. A local arborist or urban forester can be a valuable source of information about strategic tree planting on private property and public areas.