Massachusetts Independent Energy Audits

Back in 1979 I came across a book called “The Homeowner’s Energy Guide” by John A Murphy, published by the Thomas Y Crowell Company in 1976.  On the cover are two images – one of a “seemingly well constructed home” and then a “thermograph” of the same house (what we now call an “infrared scan).  The cover brags, “Slash you heating bill by up to 50% in one weekend!  Block cold air and save 70% of your heat loss!  Save $100 by spending $5.00!  Check 83 points for reducing your fuel bill!”

I’m still living in the big old, former inn here in Massachusetts that I was living in when I came across this book, and I still haven’t done all the things Mr. Murphy suggested.  But I was so intrigued by his ideas and process that I proceeded to develop a business based around providing ”Energy Audits” for homeowners.  I bought furnace test equipment so that I could use to measure the efficiency of boilers and furnaces.  I found an infrared thermomenter called a Raytek Ranger that I could estimate the level of insulation in the walls.  And I developed a data acquisition system using an HP printing calculator and typed up the report on my typewriter.

Then the state of Massachusetts came along with program that was giving the audits away.  Tough to compete with free.  I forged ahead with other energy related work, and then a few years ago went through the effort of getting my HERS Rater and BPI Certifications so that I could provide comprehensive home energy audits.  Now the state has designated that all the audits and work  go through the utitilities.  I can still provide audits, but I can’t provide the same incentives to my customers as the utility sponsored auditors can.  Somehow that doesn’t seem quite cricket, as they say.  The playing field needs to be levelled.  Massachusetts and other states in similar situations may lose out on some of the big, new programs like HomeStar if they don’t.


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