“Renew Boston” Makes Homes Energy Efficient

By Rickie Harvey
As published in The West Roxbury Transcript
Thursday, September 16, 2010

If you have been wanting to tighten up your house for some time now in order to keep the heating bills down, but haven’t really known how to go about applying the weatherstripping or where to put the insulation, and you’ve been wary of the cost of those and other energy-efficient measures, now may be your chance.

The city of Boston recently launched an initiative that prompts homeowners and apartment-dwellers, or their landlords, to make improvements that save energy and save money by paying for these upgrades with federal stimulus monies and matching funds. Called the “Renew Boston Residential Retrofit Program,” the endeavor is the first of its kind in the country, and on Sept. 27, West Roxbury Saves Energy is presenting Renew Boston’s first outreach forum to residents, providing the opportunity to hear about the opportunities for free energy-saving measures and to sign up for them.

Through Renew Boston, the city — in partnership with NSTAR and National Grid — offers residents and landlords a low-hassle way to make energy-saving home improvements, lower your energy bills, increase the value of your home, and help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, generally believed to be the main contributor to climate change.

Boston residents living in single-family and multifamily homes with up to four units who meet household income guidelines (of between $30,000 and $156,000, depending on how many live in the household) may qualify to receive weatherizing and energy-reducing improvements entirely for free. Participants are eligible for a range of services, starting with a comprehensive home-energy assessment and including weather-stripping and other air-sealing steps as well as the installation of energy-efficient light bulbs, water-saving devices and insulation. Additional free energy-efficient products may also be provided by the program, depending on the results of the home-energy assessment. One goal of the Renew Boston program is to combine the assessment and the basic improvements into just one visit, except in cases where extensive insulation or other larger upgrades are called for.

The program is scheduled to assist participants on a first-come, first-served basis until the funding is depleted. In order to ensure that West Roxbury residents have the opportunity to take advantage of the home-energy improvements being offered, WRSE will present an information session where residents and landlords may sign up for the program on Monday, Sept. 27, from 7-8 p.m. at the West Roxbury Branch Library, 1961 Centre St. The manager of the Renew Boston initiative, Joseph Walsh, will give an overview of the city’s goals and talk a little bit about the program’s genesis. Then representatives from Next Step Living, the company hired by the city to perform the assessments and implement the improvements, will walk through the process and describe how the upgrades will be accomplished. The end of the hour will be devoted to questions and answers as well as allow time for residents to sign up for the program.

According to Walsh, who is a Parkway resident, “I am talking to my neighbors about taking advantage of the opportunity offered by this ground-breaking program. Everyone in the Parkway should. Thanks to the funds the city is directing to Renew Boston — and the one-of-kind partnership we have built with NSTAR and National Grid — Bostonians can get free services that will save energy and save money that are not available to anyone else, anywhere.”