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 NSTAR offers for free or to finance them through a loan.

How can I find out how much energy I use?

Go to NSTAR’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 an 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. Try NSTAR’s Home Energy Calculator to get a feeling for how much you can save.

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 audit choice that applies to you.

What is Conservation Services Group and what is their relationship to CEA?

CSG conducts some of the MassSave energy assessments for NSTAR, 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 is Next Step Living and what is their relationship to CEA?

Next Step Living conducts MassSave Energy Assessments through NSTAR. They may also be able to provide additional services for some residential customers. You can read more about NSL and its relationship to the MassSave program here.

I am thinking about installing renewable energy.  What should I do?

Consider pursuing energy efficiency first. Although a new hot water heater or extra insulation are not as glamorous as solar panels, they are far more cost effective. In addition, should you then choose to 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.

Massachusetts receives a fair amount of sunlight, even during overcast winter days. Depending on your building, you may be a good candidate for solar electric (photovoltaic) panels, or for a solar thermal installation.  Modern solar thermal equipment exists to heat your home or provide hot water, and for many buildings it is a more cost-effective option than solar electric generation.

The City of Cambridge is not a site for large -scale wind farms, but new wind technology has made available small wind turbines that might be applicable.

Read more about your renewable energy options.

Does CEA help install solar panels?

Our recommended energy efficiency service providers can conduct a preliminary assessment of your property and make recommendations for renewable energy contractors.

A directory of local installers is available at the Solar Energy Business Association of New England’s website.

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 NSTAR, 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 MassSave 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.

What if I have more questions?

If you have any other questions, please contact the CEA Energy Advisor here or call 617-349-LEAF (5323).

Also view our Interactive Home with DIY Tips for ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.