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Marc Breslow

Marc Breslow

Director of Transportation and Buildings Policy, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

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Blowing WallInsulation

Heating bills too high? You can change that. Whatever your fuel source – gas, oil, electricity, or propane – the utilities will do a free energy assessment of your home, and will provide generous rebates (up to 75 percent of the cost) for many energy-saving improvements that can cut your bills by a third or more. To find out about home assessments and rebates go to www.MassSave.com or call 1-866-527-7283. There are also small, inexpensive steps you can take on your own that will cut costs significantly. What are the main things that can be done to cut fuel bills?

Use only the heat you need – why heat the air when you’re not home? With an old-fashioned thermostat you can turn it down when you leave. Better are programmable thermostats that let you set times when the heat is automatically turned down and then back up again before you come home.

Plug leaks – there’s not much point heating up the air in your home just to let it leak out through attics, basements, walls, windows, and doors. Yet that’s exactly what happens in most homes, and can account for a third or more of your heating costs. If you get a home assessment the utilities will do air sealing for free.

Insulate – heat also escapes through solid materials – ceiling, roof, walls, floors, windows, heating pipes. All these should be insulated, using fiberglass, cellulose (shredded newspaper), or foam. Outside walls can usually be insulated without disturbing your finished walls, by removing pieces of exterior siding and blowing cellulose into the walls. The utilities will pay 75 percent of the cost for insulation, up to $2,000 per home.

Maintain or replace heating system – heating systems must be maintained regularly to run well, especially if you use oil. Even so, systems that are 20 or 30 years old or older could be running at perhaps 70 percent efficiency, compared to the best new gas systems running at 94 percent. That means you can cut your bills one-quarter by replacing the system.

A home energy assessment takes two or three hours, after which you will get a report recommending what you can do to cut your bills, how much it will cost, and how much you can save each year. So go to MassSave.com now.

Next time: do-it-yourself steps to cut your bills.

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As Deputy Director of DOER's Green Communities Division, Lisa helps lead a team devoted to working with Massachusetts cities and towns to realize environmental and cost benefits of municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy. Prior to joining DOER, Lisa worked in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs from 2007 to 2012, first as Press Secretary and then as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Public Affairs. Her previous communications and public relations experience includes both government and the private sector, where, as principal of upWrite Communications, she served clients such as The Trustees of Reservations, The Nature Conservancy, and Partners Health Care/North Shore Medical Center. She began her career as a journalist, covering Beacon Hill for the State House News Service, and later wrote for a variety of other publications including The Boston Globe, Teacher Magazine, Animals Magazine, and The Gulf of Maine Times. The author of two books, Lisa serves on the board of the Saugus River Watershed Council and resides with her family in Melrose.

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