Boston sets goal of 150,000 home energy upgrades!

City dedicates stimulus funds to “Renew Boston” campaign to make sure Boston residents aren’t left at mercy of rising energy prices.

Oil prices are low now due to the recession but it’s only a matter of time before prices take another scary jump like they did in 2008. Free home energy assessments – for tenants, landlords, and homeowners in buildings with less than five units – are the first step to getting stimulus funds and utility rebates to improve your home and protect your pocketbook from future price shocks. And of course you’ll be cutting carbon emissions in the process.

The assessment – which we’ve all paid for through our energy bills – now includes the possibility of a blower door test and infrared analysis, two technologies that greatly improve the assessment’s usefulness. If you haven’t had an energy audit in the past 12 months, you’re entitled to another.

BostonCAN is working with other groups to demonstrate the efficacy of a new model of energy efficiency outreach called a Community Mobilization Initiative. The concept of “mobilization” is a big departure from the “marketing” methods that utility companies have used in the past to try to engage people in greening their homes. We believe that community-based groups will have much more success using the power of neighborhood word-of-mouth referrals, especially when it comes to engaging the trust of hard-to-reach communities like low-income home owners, tenants, and linguistic minorities who have rarely taken advantage of energy efficiency programs.

Already over 100 households have asked for free home energy assessments through BostonCAN this Fall. You can join the wave by filling out this very short form.

The form asks whether you rent or own your home and what type of heating fuel you use. The other questions, beyond your contact info, 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 who will screen you into the appropriate income-determined category. All income levels qualify for free assessments but the process is different for the three income groups. (Residents of buildings with greater than four units should call MassSave at 1-866-527-7283 and ask for the Multi-Family Program. That same number is good for MA residents outside of Boston. Please let the intake worker know that you heard about MassSave through the Community Mobilization Initiative.)

Boston is using its stimulus funds to add to the rebates that are available to middle-income residents whose homes need air sealing and insulation. They’ve also promised to help families that need to make home repairs, like fixing roofs and chimneys, before they can get insulation. Free money to help you improve your home and save you more money every year: what’s not to like!?

Volunteers from Simmons graduate school of management are helping BostonCAN to more effectively spread the word about Renew Boston. Can you take this two-minute survey to help us improve our home energy assessment outreach? Thanks!

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