Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting audited

Yesterday, we got audited — but in a good, non-IRS kind of way.

If you're a National Grid (or NStar) customer, you can get a free energy audit through MassSave thanks to what I imagine is some government- or state-funded program. The guy was wicked nice, and he inspected the entire house — including basement, walls, attic, etc. — for insulation (or lack thereof) and places where we might be losing heat, and then, for free, installed CFL light bulbs throughout both apartments — must have been like 15 of them — and a new water-saving shower head. He even offered to install door sweeps. And again — it was all free!

Afterward, you get a cool print-out of all your expected savings and information about the sundry rebates and no-interest loans available for energy-saving improvements.

I do wonder — this has to be some kind of racket, right? It's never made sense to me that National Grid would want to encourage you how to use less electricity unless the government is making it worth their while. But they must really pay out — because footing the bill for an independent auditor to spend an entire morning at your house, installing some $150 worth of stuff, for the sole purpose of getting you to purchase less of their product — forever! — wouldn't make for a very good business model otherwise, right?

Plus, a nonprofit like MassSave makes out, with plenty of audits to perform for customers who wouldn't otherwise pay for one. (Would they even be in business if it weren't for this program?) The guy was very nice, professional, and totally unaffiliated with the utility company — so he wasn't trying to push us into converting to natural gas or anything, just calculating what savings there might be if we did (turned out, not nearly as much as I expected). So again... either the government is forcing them to do this to stay in business, or National Grid is getting some crazy-ass tax break to offset the cost. Or is it possible they're just trying to foster an eco-friendly image?

Either way, if you qualify, I would totally recommend taking advantage of the service. I mean come on: free light bulbs!

One last plug for Mother Earth: if you're a National Grid electric customer, you can opt in to their Green Up program and choose to receive either 50% or 100% renewable electricity. (In Massachusetts, it comes from small hydro plants and wind.) We do 100%, and the resulting peace of mind costs like $4 more per month — less than a stupid venti latte at Starbucks!


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