How many Berkshire residents realize that every month, through their electric bill, they contribute to a utility fund for energy efficiency? It’s a few dollars per household that add up to major amounts that the utilities are obliged to spend on supporting energy efficiency measures (yes, they get paid to do this). There is also a state program, more on that below.
Berkshire residents and towns can benefit substantially from these programs and should, given our region’s economic challenges. Strangely, we don’t fully do that yet.
First, homeowners can receive free energy assessments including perks like LED light bulbs and power strips. Even if you had an assessment before, you can have one every two years and make the improvements you were not able to do last time.
At least 75 percent of the cost of insulation you need for your home will be paid for by the utilities. This is for everyone and without a cap. If your income is low, it’s 100 percent and you can replace inefficient appliances with better ones for free. There really is no reason not to start the process, which can take some persistence. If you need help, you can contact the non-profit ener-G-save: www.ener-G-save.com for assistance. With the recent ups and downs in temperature outside, our house stays much more comfortable due to wall insulation, and our heating bills are lower.
Now to the state program: more and more of our towns are becoming so-called Green Communities. They receive grants to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. From Clarksburg and North Adams in the north to Egremont and Great Barrington in the south, towns are taking up the offer to improve boilers, insulation, windows or other infrastructure to save taxpayers’ money.
For example, Becket received $140,000 for assessing the energy efficiency of two municipal buildings and improving insulation and air conditioning.
The conditions for receiving these grants are not that hard to meet and the benefits for towns’ coffers, our health, and the environment are substantial.
Residents should check with their select boards or mayors about taking advantage of this program and thank them if they already are. It is amazing that this opportunity exists. Let’s make use of it to the fullest extent possible for the sake of all of us in the Berkshires.
Uli Nagel — Lee, MA
The author is project manager for Living the Change Berkshires, ener-G-save, of the Greener Gateway Committee.
» Berkshire Edge site
Reprinted with permission of the author.