Monday, July 25, 2011

Mass Save

Our humble little home still had a couple major concerns that needed to be addressed, and thanks to the Mass Save program, they have been! These issues had major energy efficiency implications, which is essentially the mission of this program. It is government programs like these that make conservative arguments against government seem particularly ridiculous. This program nudges consumers to do the right thing and the benefits of doing this are spread across those consumers and society as a whole. Heating and cooling will of course be reduced, but so will reliance on foreign energy sources and all the environmental externalities created by ineeficient and unnecessary energy use. The benefits to society are miniscule individually, but collectively can make a large impact. Also, capitalists can rejoice because consumers who save money in the long run on energy will have more money to spend on ipads and chevrolets and other consumer products that fuel our economy.

Our specific issues were a remarkably sparse and degraded level of insulation in the house and a water heating system that ran through our oil-burning furnace. During the winter when the heat was often on (more often than need be due to the paucity of insulation), having our hot water emanate from the furnace was not a big deal, but there are roughly 6-7 months out of the year where the furnace does not need to run to heat the house. So on Friday after Columbia Gas attached the meter to the recently installed gas line, Richard's Heating and Plumbing, who are totally awesome by the way, finished hooking up the new super efficient on demand water heater and changing our stove from propane to natural gas. This means the propane tank can be taken away - we had originally thought that gas could not be run to our house, but the gas company luckily disabused us of this idea.

The water heater does not have a holding tank and only powers on when hot water is needed, which leads to the big efficiency gains over the older style units. So far it works amazingly well, heating up the water within seconds. These water heaters are quite a bit more expensive than the old-fashioned cylindrical ones, but there is a $500 rebate and the financing we received to underwrite this work along with the insulation is a 7-year, zero percent interest loan, which makes the whole thing pretty painless from a monthly budgeting standpoint. The price for the insulation work, which is being done as I write this, was lowered considerably by a $2,000 rebate of its own. I've done some back of the napkin calculations to figure out the payback period and can say with a high degree of confidence that we will make our money back through energy cost savings in 2 to 3 years. So going through this process, which included nothing more onerous than a home energy audit and some paper work, is the biggest no-brainer, win-win, shish boom rah rah decision we've made in a while. I must say it feels good to be a responsible home owner.


Anonymous said...

How much was the on-demand water heater? I'm curious about them... I heat/cook/get hot water with propane and it's expensive as hell.
- Debbie

Eefie said...

Hey Debbie. Our unit was around $1,100 and the total project cost with labor and running the gas lines, etc... was like $3K. But you do get a $500 rebate, which helps. They make these for propane or NG. My mom's place is all propane, too, and it is more expensive than NG, but the plumber guys were telling me it's a higher quality fuel. Have you had one of these home energy audits - they are free and they will let you know your best course of action. Good luck!