Chelmsford Offers No-Cost Energy Audits for Residents

Chelmsford’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee has developed a program in partnership with HomeWorks Energy (sponsored by Mass Save) to help you take the first step in reducing the energy used to heat and cool your homes. This initiative is vetted by the town and available to all Chelmsford residents that have not had an energy audit in the last two years. You should have received a letter from the Town Manager Paul Cohen asking you to take advantage of this no-cost energy audit initiative. Click to bring up the letter. Note the link to HomeWorks Energy has changed to

Don’t be lulled into complacency because you had an energy audit years ago, where they gave you some free LED light bulbs and water saving shower heads. Today’s energy audits are much more sophisticated and can uncover insufficiencies in your house’s air sealing and insulation, even if you have had the work recommended by previous audits done.  Thermal infrared imaging will show where heat is being lost, which points to the need for more insulation. After the energy audit is done and needed insulation is installed, they do a test called the “blower door test” where they put a fan in your door with everything closed up and try to suck the air out of your house. This shows how tight it is. If you have a lot of leaks it shows the need for better air sealing.

Benefits of an assessment include a no-cost custom home energy report, 100% off sealing air leaks in your home, 75-100% off new insulation, up to $10,000 in heat pump rebates, 0% financing, and no-cost energy-saving items such as programmable thermostats and water-saving devices. You can get much more information about this program specifically for Chelmsford at the HomeWorks Energy website.

As part of its goal to reach net-zero by 2050, the state is striving to reduce emissions in the housing sector. Retrofitting older housing stock with heat pumps is the ultimate solution, but first the primary emphasis is to make all houses as energy efficient as possible. It is important to make sure all easy insulation and air sealing fixes are done before heat pump work. Heat pumps should match closely heat output to the heat loss of the house for best efficiency. In the old days it was common to way oversize the oil or gas furnace (because it didn’t cost much) so people wouldn’t complain “not enough heat”. BUT this leads to a blast of hot air – then nothing for a long time while the house cools back down Not good for comfort. Modern heat pumps when operated properly should maintain a more constant and comfortable temperature in your home. They reduce heat output when its not needed due to outside temperatures.

Funny story. One of our CCAT members was promoting the virtues of energy audits to someone in the Assessors Office and she was reluctant to have one, thinking it would turn up the need for all sorts of expensive weatherization. The audit is no cost and will turn up RECOMMENDATIONS. You are not required to perform them. Its good to have information about how you COULD make your house better. It doesn’t make sense not to want a free audit because it might show that some improvements would lead to better efficiency, more comfort and lower energy costs. Especially, with the very generous incentives offered to spare you from any financial hardship.

Rest assured, this program is backed by the Mass Save initiative that is mandated by the state to be run by the gas and electric companies. It may seem a little strange that these companies are required to get you to use less energy. Recently there are efforts underway to have the state get involved more with this effort. So bottom line: these energy audits are not a for-profit scam. They are a vetted and well intentioned effort that provides big incentives to have the needed work done!