Despite the current lull in natural gas prices due to incredibly destructive fracking technology, oil and natural gas prices have steadily risen over time. Free home energy assessments– for tenants, landlords, and homeowners in buildings with less than five units – are the first step to getting funds to improve your home and protect your pocketbook from price shocks. And of course you’ll be shrinking your contributions to global warming in the process.
The assessment is free because we’ve all paid for the MassSave program through our energy or rent bills. If you haven’t had an energy audit in the past 12 months, you’re entitled to one. Already over 200 households have asked for free home energy assessments through BostonCAN. You can join the wave by filling out this very short form.
The form asks how many apartments are in your building, what type of heating fuel you use, and similar questions, many of which are optional. Once you hit the submit button, you’re automatically added to the queue of people requesting assessments and you should get a call or email within a week from an intake worker. (Residents of buildings with greater than four units should call MassSave at 1-866-527-7283 and ask for the Multi-Family Program. Please let the intake worker know that you heard about MassSave through the Community Mobilization Initiative.)
A program to help you improve your home and save you money every year: what’s not to like!?
Building community and a movement
We cannot win the fight for climate stability without linking individuals to each other, strengthening community ties, and building a political movement. One way we do that is by leading Low Carbon Living groups. These energy workshops pull people into the climate protection movement by reminding them that saving energy will also save them money.
Many climate activist groups are using a workbook called the Low Carbon Diet to teach people about the connection between saving money and reducing your carbon footprint. This 4-step program has been designed to lead people from individual action on energy conservation to collective action on climate change.
Any 5 or so households who agree to meet together 4 times can form a Low Carbon Living group and use the workbook to learn about energy conservation and support each other in adopting new behaviors and setting new priorities. You start the “Diet” by weighing in, measuring your carbon footprints by looking at your utility bills and travel expenses. Then you choose from a menu of action options to reduce your emissions. The menu includes concrete, effective steps like driving more efficiently and unplugging energy-draining phone chargers. For every action you take, the workbook tells you how many pounds of carbon emissions you’re avoiding. The goal is for everyone in the group to lose at least 5,000 pounds from their household’s greenhouse gas emissions. The meetings are designed to be fun, social and flexible.
Once you’re figured out how to be a smart energy consumer, your final stage of the Low Carbon Living group is to inspire others to do the same. The book explains how to teach others what you know and puts a carbon value on those actions too. Where a family might lose 5000 pounds by living more energy conscious, when they turn around and lead their extended family or friends in a second Low Carbon Living group, their efforts are multiplied 5-fold. You can bring the Low Carbon Living concept to your community through a Global Warming Cafe, such as the one BostonCAN organized in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston in March, 2008. You can read more about that inspiring event at The World Cafe website and see pictures on this site.
Groups all over the country are going on a Low Carbon Diet and the numbers are adding up. In the first winter of Low Carbon Living classes in Massachusetts, 75 households combined to pledge carbon savings of over 200 tons this year. That’s like taking 100 SUVs and leaving them in the garage for a year!
Join a Low Carbon Living group!
We are currently leading Low Carbon Living groups in Jamaica Plain and are looking forward to partnering with folks from other neighborhoods within the City of Boston. (See our events page for specific dates.) To join a group or invite BostonCAN to lead one in your neighborhood, email bostonclimateaction[at]gmail.com.
Boston City Councilors John Connolly and John Tobin at the March 2008 Global Warming Cafe in Jamaica Plain
Once you’ve done everything you can to stop wasting energy at home and in your transportation needs, you can cut your carbon further –and shrink your energy costs — by making your own power. Here are some links to simple do-it-yourself solar space heaters.
Window-based Solar Room Heater
Through-the-wall solar air heater
The Solar Room Heater that we constructed is now putting out plus-90 degree heat during the middle of sunny winter days. Keep checking this space for updates on other low-cost do-it-yourself projects to take advantage of the sun’s rays.