Signing up for a no-cost home energy assessment is a no-brainer

By Darlene Masse

Years ago, I was what some might consider your typical National Grid customer. I paid my monthly utility bills and didn’t give much thought to energy otherwise. This was well before I worked at National Grid. Now, I consider myself an educated customer, thanks in part to my experiences as a National Grid employee. As a member of the U.S. Communications team, I often publicize the many ways National Grid customers can save energy and money.

So as a customer too, it made sense for me to sign up for a National Grid EnergyWise home energy assessment for my home in Rhode Island. This no-cost home energy assessment is one of the major ways people can learn how to improve energy efficiency within their homes.  I figured what better way to communicate the benefits of this program than to actually go through it myself. I am so glad that I did.

There are so many upsides to an energy assessment that some are actually skeptical. In fact, I’ve talked to several co-workers, friends at the ball field, and others about all of the value, and they’ve flat out asked me: “What’s the catch?” The answer: “None.” There is no obligation and plenty of perks.

Energy specialists from the National Grid EnergyWise program will come to your home free of charge. Here is what you can expect during the two-hour visit.

  • A sit-down interview: You’ll be asked a series of questions about your home, appliances and energy use.
  • An assessment of your home: Energy specialists will do a comprehensive review of your home. They’ll measure your home’s insulation and calculate how much energy is escaping, check for carbon monoxide leaks, and examine your home heating equipment.
  • Plenty of freebies: Customers get free advanced power strips, 7-day thermostats for natural gas customers (they’ll even install and program it for you), and LED light bulbs (they’ll remove any incandescent bulbs and replace it directly in the lights).
  • Professional and knowledgeable support: The energy specialists have extensive experience, and it was evident during the visit.

As they assessed my home, I was shocked by some of the findings. Energy_Audit_1

  • No Exterior Insulation: The biggest shocker: my 66-year-old home has no insulation on the exterior. In other words, there is no layer of insulation between the siding and the exterior plaster walls. Having purchased my first home 11 years ago, I never thought to even ask about that. I mistakenly assumed all homes have exterior insulation. The reality is it wasn’t mandatory until the ‘70s. So with New England having one of the oldest housing inventories in the nation, imagine all of the homeowners unwittingly in the same situation and throwing money and energy literally out the window every month.
  • Over Insulated Attic: Meanwhile, I also found out that my attic was over insulated, and this was what is causing the recurring chipping of paint on the ceiling in the floor below. So glad I found that out before we repainted…again! Now, we can fix the insulation issues, and repaint with no future issues.
  • High Carbon Monoxide Levels in Appliances: I also found out that the carbon monoxide levels in our furnace and hot water heater are running too high…time for a cleaning and tune-up. Also, the piping is venting in a partially downward way, meaning that an overload of carbon monoxide could backfill into our home. As you can see from the carbon monoxide infographic, this is dangerous.

Surprisingly, all of this information was more helpful than fearful. The energy specialists walked me through all of the ways I can make my home safer and more energy efficient, while saving money and energy in the long run.

The best part is that it’s not as expensive as I thought. I’m still in the process of reaching out to heating/plumbing companies for cost estimates on repairing my appliances. Fixing those is step 1. Step 2 is the weatherization improvements. The pleasant surprise here was that National Grid covers 75% of the first $4,000 in weatherization improvements for Rhode Island customers who heat their homes with gas or electric, regardless of income. Rhode Island customers who heat with oil get 25% up to the $4,000 cap. Weatherization upgrades are also available at no cost to income eligible customers. (In Massachusetts, National Grid covers 75% of the first $2,000 in weatherization improvements regardless of fuel type.) These substantial savings add up. For me since I live in RI and heat with natural gas, $4,698.93 in weatherization improvements will only cost me $1,091.61 out of pocket. Incredible savings!

As I start the process, I’m excited about all of the ways I can help make our home safer, more energy efficiency and save money, too. The best part: I can now impress my husband with all of the things I now know!

For more details on a home energy assessment, check out this YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUat6ytkua99k4zl7SptL66w&v=tu8eSMU3_Sk.

Interested in your own home energy assessment? Call to make an appointment now.

Rhode Island Residents – 1-888-633-7947
Massachusetts Residents – 866-527-7283

*All of National Grid customers can get no-cost home energy assessments; however program details and incentives vary by state. These programs are funded by the energy efficiency charge on all customers’ utility bills, in accordance with Rhode Island law. 

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