Last month I attended the first meeting for block captains to help get the word out about Cambridge’s efforts to win the Georgetown Energy Prize. The prize is $5 million that Cambridge could win for city energy projects, but we’re in competition with cities all around the country — 49 of them. Each city conducts energy projects and outreach (both residential and commercial) in an attempt to reduce energy use citywide over two years. For the first year (2015), the city focused on municipal projects and business outreach. These tend to have longer timeframes than smaller residential projects. This year they’re turning their attention to residential outreach. At the end of 2016, cities will be judged on how much their energy use has been reduced (25% of the total score) and the methods they used to obtain that reduction (75% of the total score). This is why it’s so important for us all to get involved — engaging everyone in the city can help us win the prize as much as reducing energy can.
For people interested in reducing their home energy use, the first step is to have a Mass Save home energy assessment. Cambridge has partnered with Next Step Living to do outreach (sign up here), but you can also call the main Mass Save number (866-527-7283) or use another home performance contractor, if you prefer. Whichever you choose, during the 2-3 hour home energy assessment you’ll get no-cost instant savings measures installed, like LED light bulbs, faucet aerators, showerheads, and smart power strips. I think these are worth the time on their own, but you’ll also get recommendations for deeper measures, like insulation, air sealing, heating systems, etc. and information on rebates available for them. And don’t think this doesn’t apply to you if you’re a renter — get the instant savings measures installed, then present the report on other measures to your landlord to see if they want to make the investment.
Even if we don’t win the Georgetown Energy Prize in the end, our efforts will help save ourselves money and energy, and improve the comfort and value of our homes. It’s win-win.