If you’re reading this blog, chances are you care about climate change and our planet. You probably, like me, are always trying to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint or reduce waste. (My latest was buying dishwasher safe reusable silicone freezer/microwave ziplock-like bags, cotton produce bags so I can stop using those plastic ones at the ol’ MB, and silicone cooking tray liners so I can stop using aluminum foil. I’m also trying hard to refuse plastic straws at restaurants.)
A new report confirms what a lot of us knew instinctively…that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, which covers 9 northeast states, is not only doing the job of reducing carbon footprint—it’s also an economic boom for us.
The nine Eastern states gained $1.4 billion in economic benefits from RGGI over the past three years because of the way they invested proceeds from the cap-and-trade program, the analysts found. The biggest payoff came in investments in energy efficiency programs, which have led to more businesses and jobs in activities such as energy audits and installing energy-efficiency equipment.
The analysts also found that the cap-and-trade system has not undermined the reliability of the electricity grid, and it has not led to a net increase in electricity bills.
The RGGI does a lot for increasing solar and wind installations, both residential and commercial, and I would encourage you to explore if solar or other renewable generation is right for you. But aside from the RGGI, there are so many other programs that you could take advantage of. Bottom line…if you’re a homeowner, and have not had a Mass Save energy assessment, or have not had one in a long time, you need to take a second look.
We recently went through one, and for starters, got $6000+ worth of insulation and air sealing in our home for about $1100 of our own money. The rest of that is paid by Mass Save, which in turn is…funded by every single one of us! We pay a fee on our utility bill that goes into Mass Save. So really, you’re just getting you’re money’s worth if you take advantage of this program. I recently heard from a friend who owns a three-family home, who I had mentioned Mass Save to, and they are getting full insulation (their aged home has none) blown into the walls for only a few hundred dollars of their own money. In our home, there were additions where there was no insulation, as well as whole knee walls on our second floor…just finding out about that was valuable, but having a $1 to $5 ratio of our money to Mass Save’s to pay for it was even better.
Secondarily, and I realize not everyone is in the position to do this, we upgraded our home heating system in January (previous an old gas boiler with forced hot water baseboard) to brand new air source heat pumps, which in recent years have become viable down to fairly low temperatures as we have in our northeast winters (heat pumps also do cooling! no more ugly AC window units that don’t work and chew up electricity!). Our roughly $22,000 system was paid for by a Mass Save HEAT loan through our local credit union…with a zero interest, 7 year term. The interest is paid to the bank by Mass Save, again via those fees on our utility bills. Even such a huge upgrade as this, spread out over 7 years and with no interest, the monthly payments are reasonable. And with the efficiency you gain, you should also be paying significantly less in heating and cooling costs as well.
If you know your heating system is on its last years, do a Mass Save assessment first to find out what you could afford, and how their HEAT loan could help. Air source heat pumps are probably the most efficient, but other types of systems are available as well, such as efficient natural gas boilers. (Our aim was to get off natural gas, which is burned carbon, as much as we could.) You also get rebates from Mass Save for the upgraded equipment, so you save even more.
There’s a host of other rebates for efficient new appliances among other things. Plus Mass Save will bring you LED light bulbs and other goodies during their assessment.
Everyone likes free stuff! Interest free loans, free insulation, rebates on stuff you might need to buy anyway, and light bulbs. All in the name of being a better citizen of the planet, and paying less in utility costs. So if you haven’t had a Mass Save energy assessment, and are a home owner, what are you waiting for?
(For the record, I am not affiliated in any way with Mass Save. I’m just relating our recent experience.)