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Talk of the Town with Jerry Wasserman The Needham Channel

Energy Audits and home energy savings were the topic of this Needham Channel program. Host Jerry Wasserman takes you along on an energy audit of a Needham home. He is joined by Michael Greis of Green Needham and Clayton Schuller of Next Step Living in a roundtable discussion of the audit. They discuss the different elements of energy use and savings in a home and how homeowners can prioritize and make decisions about what to do.


This page provides resources for viewers of the show. The show is being broadcast on The Needham Channel through the month of August, 2009. Check The Needham Channel's web site for dates and times.

This nine-minute segment introduces the show, the guests and the topic of energy audits.

Please note that, although some the following information references NStar, other utilities have similar programs.

Energy Audits

Free energy audit for NStar customers: Whether you heat with oil or gas, you can call 1-800-632-8300 to set up a free home energy assessment. (Summertime is a good time to schedule, since the waiting periods are not as long as in the winter.) Mass Save will send someone out to visually inspect your home, make recommendations for saving energy, and tell you about the many NStar energy efficiency rebates and low interest loan programs. They will also give you compact fluorescent light bulbs, if desired. If you need air sealing and/or insulation, they will make a proposal and, if accepted, will send a team to do that work. (If you opt for air sealing work, a blower door test will be done when they come to do the work.) NStar pays for 75% of the cost of air sealing or insulation, up to $2000. You can have an energy audit done once a year. See for more information. See also Green Needham's wiki page on energy audits for more detail on what to expect from an energy audit and how to prepare.

Next Step Living Enhanced Energy Audits:

NStar gas customers will get a 75% rebate on Next Step Living's enhanced energy audit, which includes both diagnostics and 3 hours of work to improve energy efficiency.

Next Step Living, an energy services company, will send a team to your home to do a blower door test, with infrared camera, to see where the outside air is infiltrating and where you need additional insulation. They look at the overall efficiency of the home including air sealing, lighting, water efficiency, hot water efficiency, and insulation. They perform as many efficiency measures as they can in the 3 hour visit while also creating a report that 1) summarizes the savings the customer gets through the work done on the house and 2) makes recommendations to further increase the efficiency of the house. The report will also give the payback for each measure, based on rebates and tax incentives. Next Step Living then looks to help the homeowner accomplish these recommendations by performing the work or providing the contractors to do it ranging from air sealing, to blown in insulation, to system upgrades while accessing all the available rebates.

The customer must pay upfront ($599 plus materials -- which usually comes to about $670), then if you are an NStar gas customer, NStar reimburses 75% of the cost. (This comes out of the $2000 weatherization rebate.) The blower door test can be done year round, although the infrared camera test is more effective if there is a difference between outside and inside air temperature. If you have air conditioning this is no problem in the summer. Contact them at 1-866-867-8729 or

When you make your calls, please make sure to confirm the above information, since the offers do change.

Blower Door Tests

The accompanying 5-minute segment features the blower door test and how it uncovers air leaks within a home. {{#ev:youtube|ri9KmaVA-Qs|250}}

Energy Rebates

Rebates available for energy saving equipment can result in substantial savings. See Green Needham's wiki page on rebates See also NStar's gas programs and electric programs.

Air Sealing and Insulation

Many homes in Needham, even many newer ones, are inadequately sealed. You can cut down your energy use for heating and cooling by 20-40% through proper insulation and air sealing measures.

See Green Needham's wiki page on thermal envelope for more information.

The accompanying segment from the show talks about air sealing. It demonstrates where air leakage can occur in a house - even a newer house, and shows techniques for sealing off leaks.


Replacing Heating Equipment

This is a big decision, but replacing old, inefficient equipment with Energy Star models can greatly reduce heating bills. See Green Needham's wiki page on heating equipmentfor more information.

Compact Fluorescents (CFLs)

Compact fluorescents use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and replacing your most-used incandescent bulbs can noticeably cut your electric bill.

Green Needham's wiki page on compact fluorescents gives tips about buying compact fluorescents, plus important information about how to dispose of them and what to do if they break.

The accompanying segment from the show covers some of the "low hanging fruit" for home energy improvement - compact flourescent lamps as well as aerators to save money and energy on water use.