This article was submitted by Swampscott Town Planner Pete Kane
The Swampscott Renewable Energy Committee (REC) announces a new collaboration with Next Step Living (NSL) to promote the Mass Save® energy audit program for town residents.
A Massachusetts-based residential energy efficiency company, NSL is able to provide no-cost energy audits to NSTAR and National Grid electric and gas customers. NSL is currently running programs in many other communities including Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Melrose, Needham, Newton, Lowell, Winchester, and Newburyport. With this agreement, the REC along with the Town’s Energy Efficiency Manager will help NSL expand their program to Swampscott.
This agreement marks the kick-off of the REC’s “Big Blue Energy” initiative. The first phase of the initiative is to perform outreach and education to residents and business owners about the potential of energy reduction within their homes and businesses. “We are really excited about this new program” commented Neal Duffy, the Chair of the Renewable Energy Committee, “Up until this point, our committee has focused its efforts on reducing the town’s energy use, still a vital part of our mission, but this is our first real concerted effort to help residents save energy and money”.
Home energy audits are an excellent way for home owners to not only learn where they can make cost-saving updates to their homes, but also provide information about state and federal incentive programs to reduce the cost to make those updates. Fees that all residential utility customers pay on their monthly bills pay for the energy audits, so this outreach effort is meant to ensure that as many Swampscott residents as possible benefit from something they are already paying for. Next Step Living has had proven success in surrounding communities, sometimes more than doubling resident participation in the audit program annually. Matthias Bohler, Director of Institutional Partnerships for Next Step Living, is hoping to continue their success in Swampscott “We are so happy to be working with Swampscott, it is a great community that has been very forward thinking in terms of energy, and we can not wait to help people here save money and energy.”
Another feature of the Big Blue Energy Initiative will be to educate residents about renewable opportunities such as solar panels for their homes and businesses. Swampscott resident, and former chair of the Renewable Energy Committee, Tara Gallagher, suggested this initiative after her own experience installing solar panels on her home two years ago. “When I started researching solar for my house, there was so much information out there, it was hard to wade through it all,” says Gallagher. The committee agreed that providing online resources for residents would be a great idea. “With so many third-party and lease arrangements such as those the High School and Middle School are benefiting from, we believe that the biggest barrier for solar is education, not finances,” says Gallagher. “The financial situation has never been more attractive, and we really want to get the word out to everyone in town. “
The kick-off event for this outreach program will be a Mass Save 101 workshop at the Swampscott Senior Center on Oct. 22, 2012 at 7:00 PM. This will be the first of many workshops which are meant to educate residents on how to reduce energy use in their homes. These workshops are just part of the overall outreach effort that the committee would otherwise not be able to provide if not for the partnership with Next Step Living.
For information about the “Big Blue Energy” initiative, please visit http://bigblueenergy.org.
About the Swampscott Renewable Energy Committee
The Renewable Energy Committee (REC) evaluates and makes recommendations to the Board of Selectmen regarding energy conservation, energy efficiency, and/or conversion to greener energy sources. The REC is made up of volunteer community members with a representative from the Department of Public Works and is staffed by the Town Planner / Energy Efficiency Manager. Formed to bring the Green Community designation to Swampscott and help make the municipality “greener,” the REC is expanding its focus to provide information and guidance to residents and businesses in town. For information about the REC, please visit http://bit.ly/swampscott-rec.
About Next Step Living, Inc.
Founded in 2008, Next Step Living, Inc. is a residential energy efficiency and renewable energy company providing home energy diagnostics and improvements to the greater New England area. As a socially-conscious, environmentally focused, results-driven organization, Next Step Living, Inc. is dedicated to helping customers lower their energy bills, increase the comfort of their homes, and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
Next Step Living, Inc. is committed to providing the personal attention clients seek from a home service organization while ensuring lasting change through large scale impact. Through collaborative efforts with major utilities, communities, and employers, Next Step Living, Inc. strives to help bring social, economic, and environmental change to cities and towns across the country, one home at a time. For information on Next Step Living, Inc. and its services, please visit http://www.nextsteplivinginc.com.
About the Mass Save® Home Energy Services Program
Administered by National Grid in Lowell, Mass Save® is a state-wide, rate-payer funded program which provides No-Cost home energy assessments and weatherization incentives to Massachusetts residents. For more information about the Mass Save program, please visit http://www.MassSave.com.