Ben, a renter in Jamaica Plain, shares his experience of receiving a Mass Save home energy audit.

I recently moved into a new apartment on the top floor of a Boston triple-decker. With winter coming, I wanted to make sure we weren’t wasting money on our energy bills, so I decided to call Mass Save to set up an energy audit appointment.

They called me back the following day with options for my appointment, and we scheduled a time the following week at 5 pm for an energy auditor to come by my apartment.

The Mass Save auditor came prepared with a bag of equipment, a computer, and a ladder.

After meeting me at the door, she began a walkaround of the house with instruments in hand. She checked our walls for insulation using an infrared camera, noting the need for better insulation. She also visited the basement and recorded the type of natural gas furnace that the building uses.

Auditor checking house

Unfortunately, as her last stop of the day, she had run out of programmable thermostats. So, the auditor scheduled a time with me to drop by later in the week with a new one. This was great because it enabled us to save a lot of energy and money by setting our heat to a lower temperature while we are all out of the house.

Both the audit and the equipment were totally free! Including the follow up, I’d say the process took about half an hour, and the auditor left us with a set of recommendations for further action. This equipped us to have a discussion with our landlord about upgrades like improved insulation and boilers for our apartment.

After going through it firsthand, I highly recommend the Mass Save audit. It was smooth, quick, and very helpful as a renter. However, I was disappointed that they weren’t able to replace the compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in our apartment. CFL bulbs contain a significant level of mercury, a dangerous chemical, and should NOT be handled if broken. These lights are more energy efficient than the traditional incandescent lights; but, they don’t measure up to the savings of LEDs.

Another takeaway from the audit for me was that my home improvement options as a renter are limited. Our landlord would need to sign on to significant upgrades like better walls, roofing, and window insulation. But, since they don’t pay the monthly utility bill for the apartment, they are missing the motivation we have to push for these changes.

                Old thermostat      New programmable thermostat

The Mass Save auditor did a great job of providing us with simple improvements like the programmable thermostat, tips on how to save energy through better use, and a list of how we could take our savings to the next level. To any Boston resident out there considering it, I’d say it’s definitely worth your time.


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