Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mass Saves Energy Audit Program

One of the biggest events of this winter here at the house was our energy audit, provided by our local utility company. We got a flyer in the mail about this program, which we had been really interested in since we bought the house at the end of 2009. We've known there was very little attic insulation in the house, but we weren't sure about what was in the walls. We decided to look into the audit, since it was free.

Now that the whole process is complete and I've had time to reflect on the experience, it turned out to be one of the better things we've done in home ownership.

The energy audit itself went really well, but took a lot longer than I thought it would. Two and a half  hours of close inspection later, it was determined that we definitely needed attic insulation and wall insulation. The auditor/inspector works for an impartial entity, so he stands to gain nothing from this assessment. There was also a second quality assurance guy present who made sure that the auditor performed his job right. I didn't get a phone call about the quality assurance guy coming to the audit at our home until about 4 hours before the appointment, so that was kind of wonky, but still, nice to have.

The energy audit, for anyone who happens to stumble upon this in search of reviews, was pretty neat. The gentleman, who I'll call "Ted," was very thorough and informative. The program that we looked into is administered by MassSaves, and Ted worked for Honeywell. Not too sure about all the intricacies of all the corporate stuff, but I was very nervous about getting taken advantage of.

I asked Ted how the program worked, and why they'd cover so much in renovations/upgrades to our home. MassSaves will cover up to $2000 in work in your house, effectively. They look at your windows, your heating system, your insulation, and all sort of other stuff. We only really qualified for insulation upgrades since everything else in the house is up to date for the most part. 

Ted explaining that when the utility company helps pay for your improvements, they can write off their costs in helping you. I think there's something like benefits and rebates for utility companies to cash in on if they help their customers go green too, but I can't say with any certainty. Either way, it benefits the utility company to help you out, even if they lose in utility billings.

I was nervous, but now in retrospect, I would recommend that anyone in the area should seriously consider this assessment. They switch out your light bulbs to CFLs for free, they replaced our thermostat with a programmable one for free (ours was only 3 years old), they take a look at your faucets for aerators and will replace them for free (!!), and unlock a bunch of awesome rebates from the state. If you are a customer of a contributing sponsor, and there are a few recognizable names if you live in Massachusetts, you are already paying for this service on your utility bill. You should use it! It's free, and you don't have to get the work done if you don't want to.

In our experience, after the auditor finished up, it took 2-3 weeks to get his report. His report had all the data he determined for our home, and a quote on how much it would cost to do ALL of the work, which I think is optional. For example, if you're told you need wall insulation and attic insulation, you can chose to do just one of the two jobs if you only have money enough for one.
We don't have cable, but I have Mike Rowe in my heart 

We opted to get air sealing, attic insulation, and wall insulation since we had enough money in our budget for all three, with the help of Mass Saves and our local utility company. At the end of the day, it cost around $1100 for all three. The original cost without the help was $3100. 

It's definitely worth looking into if you own property. I don't really know how it works if you come in under the $2000 mark. I think you may have to pay a very small amount of it... best to read at the website or ask your auditor. 

What took the longest was the energy audit. Once we agreed to the $1100 worth of work, the contractors called us within a week, and had the job done before the end of the month. Perhaps I'll write more about that process at another time, but for now, even if you don't live in Massachusetts and want to look into this, ASK YOUR LOCAL UTILITY COMPANY! It seems a lot of states have a program similar to ours!

If you're curious, just leave a comment and I will do my best to answer your questions. I recently found out that we can write off $500 of the costs on our Federal tax return for 2013 as well (I hope I understood that properly)!


Anonymous said...

You seemed to be satisfied with the contractor who die the insulation work, do you mind sharing the name of the contractor?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Do you mind sharing your contractor's name as you seem to be satisfied with the work?

Danielle said...

Sure, the company was Home Energy Solutions at 12 Pisgah Rd in Huntington, MA. The contractor's name was Jay Boland.