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Green Communities helps Chesterfield residents save

  • Nicolas Frischer and Erin McEnaney have installed new windows and a  new heating system in their home in Chesterfield. Now a town grant may help them with more energy-saving measures.<br/>FRAN RYAN

    Nicolas Frischer and Erin McEnaney have installed new windows and a new heating system in their home in Chesterfield. Now a town grant may help them with more energy-saving measures.
    FRAN RYAN Purchase photo reprints »

  • Chesterfield resident Nick Frischer points to an air duct in the basement of his Main Road home. He and his wife, Erin McEnaney, are taking advantage of energy efficiency grants offered through the town.<br/>FRAN RYAN

    Chesterfield resident Nick Frischer points to an air duct in the basement of his Main Road home. He and his wife, Erin McEnaney, are taking advantage of energy efficiency grants offered through the town.
    FRAN RYAN Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nick Frischer in the attic of his home on Main Road in Chesterfield. Frischer says insulating the attic will make a big difference in his energy bills.<br/>FRAN RYAN

    Nick Frischer in the attic of his home on Main Road in Chesterfield. Frischer says insulating the attic will make a big difference in his energy bills.
    FRAN RYAN Purchase photo reprints »

  • Frischer in the attic of his home, which he hopes to insulate soon.<br/>FRAN RYAN

    Frischer in the attic of his home, which he hopes to insulate soon.
    FRAN RYAN Purchase photo reprints »

  • Inserting coin in piggy bank

    Inserting coin in piggy bank Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nicolas Frischer and Erin McEnaney have installed new windows and a  new heating system in their home in Chesterfield. Now a town grant may help them with more energy-saving measures.<br/>FRAN RYAN
  • Chesterfield resident Nick Frischer points to an air duct in the basement of his Main Road home. He and his wife, Erin McEnaney, are taking advantage of energy efficiency grants offered through the town.<br/>FRAN RYAN
  • Nick Frischer in the attic of his home on Main Road in Chesterfield. Frischer says insulating the attic will make a big difference in his energy bills.<br/>FRAN RYAN
  • Frischer in the attic of his home, which he hopes to insulate soon.<br/>FRAN RYAN
  • Inserting coin in piggy bank

CHESTERFIELD — An innovative energy-saving program is making an offer some town residents can’t refuse: potential savings of up to $3,000 on improvements designed to weatherize their homes.

For Nicolas Frischer and Erin McEnaney, for instance, who want to insulate and air seal their house at 409 Main Road, the program will likely cover a large portion of the costs. The couple have been renovating their home, which was built in 1859, since they moved in six years ago.

“We added a brand-new European heating system, installed 45 new windows, did some insulation in the walls and put on new doors,” Frischer said.

And as the couple saw their energy bills dropping, they wanted to see if they could reduce them even more.

“The one thing that we hadn’t gotten to yet is insulating the third floor,” Frischer said. “So we are really looking forward to seeing exactly what this program can do for us.”

The program Frischer is referring to was developed by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the Hilltown Community Development Corporation and the Chesterfield Green Communities Committee in conjunction with Western Massachusetts Electric Company’s Mass Save program.

Residents apply through the Hilltown CDC, and then schedule a free home energy assessment with Mass Save. (See box.) If they choose to implement the recommendations in the assessment, WMECO pays 75 percent of the cost up to $2,000, and the town reimburses any additional costs up to $1,000.

Start with energy audit

“We signed up for the energy audit right away,” said Frischer. The auditors are coming Dec. 10, and he and McEnaney are eager to hear about potential savings.

McEnaney said she and Frischer had an energy audit done on their home a few years back, before Chesterfield became a Green Community. At that time there were no grants or other financial incentives to help cover the costs of energy-saving upgrades so they couldn’t follow through on all the improvements suggested in the audit.

“At that time, we didn’t have any extra funds available, having just done the renovations,” McEnaney said. “Now, with the Mass Save program, it just makes sense to look at it again, especially with the additional funds coming from the town.”

The couple estimates that insulating their large third-floor attic space will cost about $4,000. With the $2,000 from Mass Save and a $1,000 reimbursement from the town, their out-of-pocket expense will be about $1,000.

Frischer and McEnaney spend about $5,500 annually on propane and oil to heat their home. They expect the new insulation will reduce that figure.

“Even a small percentage taken off of $5,500 will be great,” he said.

Susan Heffernan, who lives near Damon Pond, recently had an energy audit completed.

“We were in pretty good shape but we are going to have the air sealing done,” she said.

Heffernan says the costs of air sealant measures will be completely covered by the Mass Save program.

She says her household also received about $200 worth of energy-saving light bulbs as a result of the audit.

Insulation, air sealing key

Joseph Gazillo, chairman of the town’s Green Communities Committee, said insulation and air sealing are the primary upgrades that WMECO focuses on.

“I think that in this program, the biggest bang for your buck is in attic insulation,” he said.

Other residents are taking advantage of the fact that the town will cover certain projects that may not be funded through Mass Save.

Kathy Brisbois, who owns a 200-year-old Cape on South Street, said she will be insulating parts of her home and having window inserts installed.

“We have old windows and we didn’t want to replace them and ruin the character of the house,” Brisbois said. “We found out that the town would cover this, even if it was not included in the Mass Save program.”

According to Gazillo, the $1,000 from the town may end up paying for the entire cost of the window inserts.

“It’s basically an indoor storm window that seals out the draft,” Gazillo said. “And trust me, if you live in an older home, there is nothing worse than having your window closed but watching your curtains blow back and forth in the breeze. So these do help.”

Green Communities’ role

Last December, Chesterfield was designated a Green Community by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources after the town met five clean-energy benchmarks.

The state collaborates with Mass Save to offer grants for Green Communities to promote clean energy practices and reduce energy costs.

Base grants start at $125,000 and can go up to $1 million depending on the population of the city or town. Chesterfield received $140,000.

Of that amount, $55,000 was allocated for the Chesterfield Residential Energy Efficiency Program.

Funding for the Green Community program comes from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate cap-and-trade program that requires electric power generators to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide.

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