What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy comes from energy sources that renew themselves. The sun, wind, biomass and geothermal heat from the earth can all be used to generate electricity, keep your shower hot, and heat, cool and light your home in a way that is clean, safe, and sustainable.
What comes first, energy efficiency or renewable energy?
Consider pursuing energy efficiency first. Although a new hot water heater or extra insulation are not as glamorous as solar panels, they are more cost effective. In addition, should you then pursue renewable energy options, you won’t need as large a system. The combination of efficiency and renewables is a great way to save money over time and reduce your carbon emissions.
I am thinking about installing renewable energy. What should I do?
Consider pursuing energy efficiency first. Although super-efficient pumps or lighting are not as glamorous as solar panels, they are far more cost-effective. Then, if you pursue a renewable energy option, your renewable system won’t need to be as large. The combination of efficiency and renewables is a great way to save money over time and reduce your carbon emissions.
Massachusetts receives a fair amount of sunlight, even during overcast winter days. While solar electric (photovoltaic) systems work well here, you may be better served by solar thermal equipment. Modern solar thermal equipment can help heat your home or provide hot water. Cambridge is not a site for large-scale wind farms, but new wind technology has made available small wind turbines that might be applicable.
How can I invest in renewable energy?
You can invest in bringing more renewable energy to New England by making a contribution at New England Wind Fund, or New Generation Energy. Both organizations help local groups with the cost of renewable energy installations.
Does CEA help install solar panels?
Not directly. Our recommended energy efficiency service providers can conduct a preliminary assessment of your property and make recommendations for renewable energy contractors.
The North Eastern Sustainable Energy Association’s green pages offers a directory of qualified installers and contractors for solar, wind, geothermal, and more.
What is CEA doing to help Cambridge residents?
The Cambridge Energy Alliance aggregates financial resources and energy services to help businesses and homes access the help they need to reduce their energy use and save money. For residential buildings, how this happens will vary, depending on whether you own or rent, what kinds of efficiency opportunities your building has, and whether it makes sense for you to pay outright for measures beyond those that Eversource offers for free or to finance them through a loan.
How can I find out how much energy I use?
Go to Eversource’s website to read your bill. The website provides sample gas and electric bills to understand charges and use on your bill. Also included are your customer billing rights and ways you can quickly get answers for your billing questions.
How much can I save?
The best way to find out is to sign up for a free home energy assessment that can provide you with an analysis of your building’s needs and cost-effective strategies to reduce your energy use and bills.
A homeowner investing in a cost-effective package of measures addressing heating, cooling, insulation, water use, and lighting can typically achieve 20-30% savings of his or her current utility bills. For a homeowner spending $3,000 annually for electricity, gas, oil and water, the annual savings would be $600-1,000.
How do I get a free home energy assessment?
Simply go to the sign-up page and select the free assessment choice that applies to you.
What is Conservation Services Group and what is their relationship to CEA?
CSG conducts some of the Mass Save energy assessments for Eversource, including all of the assessments for residential buildings with five or more units. The assessment includes an evaluation of building envelope, insulation, and other building needs such as windows. More information is available at Mass Save.
What rebates and incentives am I entitled to?
CEA does not offer direct grants at this time, but your energy efficiency improvements may qualify for a wide range of rebates or tax deductions from Eversource, the state, and/or the federal government. The Cambridge Energy Alliance also offers assistance in obtaining financing to make the program especially easy and affordable for homeowners.
Does CEA provide financing to help with the cost of energy efficiency installations?
CEA has arranged for a simplified loan process with pre-selected banks. Once any loans are repaid, you pocket the utility bill savings. Since energy costs are likely to continue to rise in the long term, the benefits from taking action are likely to rise as well. Loans can be structured so that the amount saved on electricity, heating, or water bills will cover the loan payments.
Can I take a loan out from my bank or do I have to use CEA’s financing?
You are welcome to use your own bank, or apply for a loan from one of our pre-selected banks. More information. Additional financing is available through the Mass Save HEAT loan program, which provides customers the opportunity to apply for a 0% loan from participating lenders for the installation of qualified energy efficient improvements in their homes.
Also view our Interactive Home with DIY Tips for ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.
What financing options are available for energy efficiency and renewables?
Find out more about federal, state, and utility incentives through ENERGY STAR or DSIRE. Our residential financing page lists other programs and services which you may also be able to take advantage of.
Where can I purchase renewable energy?
It is possible for residents of homes to purchase through a competitive energy supplier. Those interested in purchasing a renewable energy supply through a competitive supplier can find information on the Cambridge CDD website.
Business and Non-Profits
What’s the relationship between CEA and Eversource?
CEA is a City of Cambridge program to help save energy in Cambridge buildings. Eversource (formerly NSTAR) offers its customers energy conservation measures, funded by a small surcharge added to its bills. CEA wants to make sure Cambridge businesses and institutions know about and take advantage of Eversource’s programs. We work with Eversource and the contractors who carry out the assessments and efficiency measures to get the word out and track the programs’ results.
Who is Prism Consulting and what is their relationship to CEA?
Prism Consulting is an energy service provider that conducts energy assessments for businesses and non-profits in Cambridge through a contract with Eversource. Prism specializes in the evaluation, design, installation, and maintenance of energy-efficient lighting systems.
Does CEA provide financing to help with the cost of energy efficiency installations?
CEA has arranged for a simplified loan and equipment leasing process with identified banks. Loans can be structured so that the amount saved on electricity, heating, or water bills will cover the loan payments. Once any loans are repaid, you pocket the utility bill savings. Since energy costs are likely to continue to rise, the benefits from taking action are likely to rise as well.
What kinds of rebates and incentives am I entitled to?
CEA does not offer direct grants at this time, but your energy efficiency improvements may qualify for a range of rebates or tax deductions from Eversource or from the state and federal governments. We can help you figure out which ones you are eligible for.
What other programs are available to businesses and non-profits in Cambridge?
The City of Cambridge offers assistance to qualifying participants through the Storefront Improvement Program and the Best Retail Practices Program. These programs provide funds for interior and exterior building improvements.
In addition, the Sustainable Business Leadership Program collaborates with CEA in its business sustainability program.
Can I take a loan out from my bank or do I have to use CEA’s financing process?
You can use your own bank or participate through a loan program with business financing providers identified by the Cambridge Energy Alliance. CEA can help you determine your best option. You can find out more about financing options here.
If you are ready to request an assessment, proceed to the assessment sign-up page.
If you have any other questions, please contact the CEA Energy Advisor here or call 617-349-LEAF (5323).