Greenovate’s Community Voices blog series spotlights community members who help make our city greener, healthier, and more energy efficient. In this edition, we meet East Boston residents Maria and Victor Grande. They made their home more comfortable and energy efficient with the help of the City’s Renew Boston program, and are excited to encourage their friends and neighbors to do the same.
Nuestra Serie Blog “Voces de la Comunidad” celebra los miembros de la comunidad que ayudan a cambiar nuestra ciudad a una ciudad más verde, más saludable y más eficiente de energía. En este edición, conocimos a unos residentes de East Boston, los esposos, Victor y Maria Grande. Con la ayuda del programa Renew Boston, hicieron su hogar más cómodo y eficiente.
Resilient in a wild climate
Victor and Maria Grande led Lourdes Lopez and I to their garden - a beautiful oasis of flowers, vegetables and artwork behind their East Boston home. Despite the initial appearances of vitality, Victor says, this year’s drought and extreme temperatures have taken a toll on many of their vegetables. He indicates to the browning and dry edges of the leaves on a tomato plant.
The heat has not been as hard on Victor and Maria, however, since they insulated their home in 2012. Before then, they explained, summers could be brutal - and the winter cold was even worse.
Bringing energy efficiency home
The Grandes have been active with the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) community for years, and it was at a NOAH meeting that other community members recommended that they look into Renew Boston - the City’s home energy efficiency program. Renew Boston helps Bostonians save energy, save money, and make their homes more comfortable.
After hearing about the success other East Bostonians had had with the program, they attended a Renew Boston workshop at the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library. It was there that they met Renew Boston’s Community Outreach Manager Lourdes Lopez.
Lourdes helped them set up a home energy assessment, during which they learned energy-saving tips and got brand new energy-saving LED lights and low-flow showerheads -- all free of charge. Those improvements allowed the Grandes to save energy and money instantly. But much greater savings were in store for Victor and Maria.
A world of difference
“It made such a big difference,” said Victor. “Before we made those improvements, heating and cooling were incredibly expensive. It felt like we had to choose between paying the mortgage and paying our utility bills. Upgrading the lights and the showerheads made a difference right away.” But, he explains, those savings were only the beginning. They decided to take it a step further and insulate their home with the help of incentives and rebates for improving energy efficiency through Mass Save. Renew Boston facilitated this process.
Maria explains that these changes made their home much more comfortable, as well. “When it’s really hot out or really cold out, it stays comfortable in here so much longer before we even need to rely on our heating or cooling. We did it just in time, too. Before we got involved with Renew Boston we didn’t have any insulation at all. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if we hadn’t insulated before the brutal storms of 2014 and 2015.”
“Lourdes helped us out a lot,” said Victor. “She helped us through the whole process.” Lourdes and the Grandes have stayed in touch in the years since they got involved with the program. Lourdes was the one who introduced me to the Grandes, and she accompanied me to their home.
Spreading the word
“Would you recommend Renew Boston to your neighbors, Victor?” Lourdes asked. “You don’t have to be nice just because I’m here!” she added with a laugh.
“I absolutely would - it’s helped us out so much!” said Victor. “But, I don’t think most of them would qualify. Many of them rent their homes.”
Lourdes explains that this is a common misconception. Thanks to the program’s new Whole Building Incentive, property owners, landlords, and renters alike qualify for rebates and incentives.
“So give them my number, Victor! We have options for just about everyone.”
Before we left, I asked Victor and Maria why energy efficiency was so important to them - in addition to its environmental value.
Victor stood up, laughed, and took out his wallet. “Right here, of course!” he says with a laugh. “It’s been so much easier on our wallets. It was a great decision.”
Get started with Renew Boston
To learn more about saving energy, saving money, and making your home more comfortable, stop by a free Renew Boston community workshop this fall. Next week Lourdes will hold a workshop in Dorchester, helping people get started making their homes more efficient -- the way she did with Victor and Maria several years ago.
Resiliente en un clima salvaje
Traer a casa la eficiencia energética
Un mundo de diferencia
Lourdes y la familia Grande han mantenido en contacto durante los próximos años, aun ya que habían aislado su hogar.. Lourdes fue la que me presentó a la familia -Grande y tambien ella me acompañó a su casa.
Difundiendo la palabra
Empezar a utilizar Renew Boston