This is the bag Nate brought in with him to do all the various tests.

Saving Money with a Home Energy Assessment

If you are a fan of my blog, you already know what a big fan I am on Farmer’s Markets.  Well I was walking along at my local Farmer’s Market a few weeks back and stopped at a booth that looked like it had nothing to do with produce, instead there were a bunch of light bulbs all around.  So, I stopped and asked the gentleman what his booth was all about.  He told me he was working for the city on a project to help save home owners money and help the environment at the same time.  This sparked my interest so I asked some questions.

He explained the Mass Save program to me.  Mass Save is an initiative funded by the utility companies geared at making the average home more energy-efficient.  Why would utility companies be working to save us energy you might ask?  Well, I did ask… Let’s use the electric company for example.  If the electric company succeeds in making your home more energy-efficient, it reduces the overall strain on the electric grid.  This helps them by leading to less building of electic stations and less building of electric stations leads to less maintenance of said electric stations which leads to less repair and eventual replacement of those electric stations.  In every single point of that last sentence, the electric company saves money.  But, in order to save them money, they need to make your home and thousands of other homes more efficient by helping you to utilize the power that comes into your home in a more efficient manner.  This then leads to the consumer saving money.

Some of the things they will help you with to reduce your electric intake is checking on your appliances and providing information on available rebates if you need to replace them with energy star label appliances.  They replace existing light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs and they may even leave you with a power strip that will reduce the amount of plug-in non-use energy that you are paying for just for having things plugged in even if they aren’t currently in use! But, it’s not just the electricity that they help you out with.  An energy assessment on your home also looks at your heating costs and the efficiency of the heat that you are bringing into your home.  They do this mainly by looking at the outside insulation of your home and the efficiency of your furnace, they will also supply you with a no cost programmable thermostat. One of the biggest things they provide you with is a 75% instant rebate (that is a rebate you don’t need to pay and then get reimbursed for, this rebate is more like a coupon to use at time of purchase) on the installation of insulation on the outer perimeter of your home. They look at your water intake and can replace shower heads and add-on faucet spouts to reduce the water you use.

So, I all this made me curious… I decided to book an assessment and try it out on a rental unit we own.  And they were very accommodating… It took a couple of weeks to find a date and time that worked with everyone’s schedule, but we set it and they called with a reminder the day before.

On the day of the assessment a nice and very knowledgeable young man named Nate showed up ready to work.  I’ll take you through what he did…

Nate goes into the closet where the cable company has run wires to check to see if there is insulation in the outer walls of the home.

Here he he unscrewing the outlet plate to try and get a peek in the wall.

Since the wall is covered with a decorative paneling, he is checking to see if there is a layer of plaster beneath it. If there is, then insulation can be blown in. If not, then the paneling would not support the inulation and the walls could buckle... in this case, it's all set.

Since the wall is covered with a decorative paneling, he is checking to see if there is a layer of plaster beneath it. If there is, then insulation can be blown in. If not, then the paneling would not support the insulation and the walls could buckle… in this case, it’s all set.

Nate checks under the siding of the house to see if there is an outside layer of insulation under the siding.

He also looks at your thermostat. If it’s not programmable, he leaves a programmable one behind for ya.

He looks at all the light fixtures in the home in search of non-energy efficient bulbs so that he might swap them out for more energy efficient ones.

Even the plug in lamps get a new upgrade.

Nate brought along a whole box of replacement bulbs.

This is one style of energy efficient bulb.

This is a more modern style of energy-efficient bulb.

Nate does the swapping out for the resident.

But, he also leaves behind all the old bulbs.

Nate checks the refrigerator to see if it is one of the more energy-efficient models. If is was an older model that did not have an Energy Star status, there are rebates available.

This is the bag Nate brought in with him to do all the various tests.

Here Nate is checking for the Carbon Monoxide levels in the furnace.

Here Nate is checking for the air flow and efficiency of the furnace.

These are the two measurement units that test the quality of the air inside the furnace and the air flow.

Nate had to drill a small hole in the vent shaft, which is o.k. but he also used metal tape to cover the hole.

So, that’s everything… The whole visit took about 45 minutes or so.  He explained that he would be checking over all his numbers and making recommendations and sending me out all of that along with a cost analysis of how much everything would be should we choose to follow any of the recommendations along with information on any rebates available to us to defray the cost.  Even if we decide not to go with any of the upgrades right now, we still have all the light bulbs (that can be pretty pricey), the new programmable thermostat, a new top of the line energy-saving power strip and a new faucet nozzle to install.  Overall, I would say it was well worth my 45 minutes!

I think I’ll have an assessment of my own home done next!

If you or someone you know is looking to have an energy assessment done for your home or business and you live in Massachusetts, just contact Mass Save at the highlighted link.  If you live outside of Massachusetts, contact your local utility company and ask if they have a similar program available, most states do!

I would like to thank Lori Medeiros, Senior Loan Officer for RMS for sponsoring today’s post!