First of all, I have to admit that last winter was a dream. We had that fluke storm that cancelled Halloween and then didn't get anything significant until mid-February. If it could only be like that every year!
So I may have gotten a little help from Mother Nature, but I was still able to reduce my oil heating bill by $1,100. I am on the budget plan with Horan Oil and realize that they are not the cheapest supplier around. But I've been with them since I moved to Sharon some 13 years ago and have never had any problems. I did look into switching to a discount provider but the ones I checked either didn't have a budget plan or didn't offer more than a few hundred dollars worth of savings. Admittedly, it may be that I just didn't look hard enough. But now that I've been able to reduce my oil bill so significantly, I feel less inclined to eek out what little additional savings I may find.
I began looking into saving money on my utilities after doing a budget review. I was doing some belt-tightening and had just dropped HBO from my cable bill when I started wondering if I could reduce any of my other "fixed" expenses, namely my mortgage, heating, telephone/cable, electricity, water and trash pickup. I wasn't able to refinance last year but did this year so I got my mortgage payment down about $500. I called Comcast and got them to put me back on some sort of special deal that got that expense decreased by $40. Plus as many of you know, I got solar panels installed so am saving $100 monthly on my electric bill and will receive another $1,700 annually selling my SRECs. I was not able to determine a way to save any significant money on my water or trash bill - anyone who has please leave a comment as I'd love to hear!
But this article is about how I saved $1,100 on my heating bill. It was pretty easy. I called MassSave at 800-632-8300. They also have a website at MassSave.com. The surprising thing is that I found out about this tremendous program through NStar, but in reality, they did very little to reduce my electricity usage. They will give you fluorescent lights to replace your incandescents, but I made that switch long ago.
What they did do however was take a serious look at my house's insulation. I have a single-family ranch on the Stoughton line that was built in 1955, before the 70's oil crisis. There was little need for conservation or energy efficiency back then. So when the people from Conservation Services Group (CSG), the company that administers the program, came out for an assessment, I was taken aback by how much work they recommended.
I knew that I could use some additional insulation in my attic as I only had about 6 inches. But I didn't realize they could also insulate my external walls and reduce air leaks using a blower door test.
But the biggest surprise of all was how little I would have to pay! This entire program is subsidized by NStar (via a surcharge included in my electric bill) and they'll pay for 75% of the cost up to $2,000. When they first came, they gave me an estimate of $4,900. The attic insulation was about half, the wall insulation was the other half and the blower door test and reduction of air leaks was actually free.
But what I realized is that the $2,000 discount is not a one-time event. So while I could've opted to pay $2,900 and get my entire house insulated, I opted instead to just get just the attic insulation, the air leak reduction and one wall of my house insulated. The cost for that was $2,900 of which I had to pay $900. I deferred insulating the rest of my walls until this past summer, when I received a $2,000 estimate and paid $500. So instead of paying $2,900 to get everything done at once, I split it across two years and only paid $1,400.
A subcontractor came and blew insulation into the attic and carefully removed the wood siding beneath my vinyl siding and blew insulation into the walls. It is a mixture of shredded newspaper with boric acid so it is flame retardant. Then they went around the space at the top of my basement walls and below my first floor and applied foam insulation to reduce drafts. Once they were done, CSG sent out an inspector to make sure the job was done right.
And that's how I saved $1,100 on my oil bill last winter. With the extra insulation, the house was much warmer and less drafty. We were actually able to keep the thermostat a degree or two cooler but were still just as comfortable. Prior to the work, I was sending a $350 budget payment to Horan every month for 10 months and afterwards I was able to reduce that to $240. I'm hoping to save another $400 this winter after having the remainder of the wall insulation installed.
I guess technically, I did have to pay $900 last year to save $1,100. But that is a one-time payment whereas those oil savings will recur year after year. Who knew that I was going to save $1,100 off my oil heating bill by going through a program run by my electric company?