Phyllis Muldoon: A MassSAVE mini-split mess

Published: 01-10-2024 5:50 PM

Your front page article about heat pumps and the state’s goal to have 2.8 million homes equipped with these by 2050, while interesting in its angle, doesn’t begin to tell the story of what is required by MassSAVE in order to reap incentives which lower costs considerably [”Public slow to warm to heat pumps,” Gazette, Jan. 4]. When I contacted a heating/cooling mini-split contractor on the state’s list, he indicated that I first needed a MassSAVE inspection, an electrician certifying the house did not have any live knob and tube wiring common in older homes, and all the other weatherization requirements done by a state contractor.

What sounded reasonable ended up costing over $19,000. Oh, and we haven’t yet paid for any insulation and still don’t have the mini-splits! Finding an electrician who knows how to work with knob and tube without ripping wires through walls and leaving huge, jagged holes is a challenge. Often homeowners are left with costly wall repair bills. Many electricians familiar with the painstaking process of carefully pulling knob and tube wires through switches and overhead lights are now retired. We got lucky. Only nine holes and in a closet!

The first problem, however, was insufficient amperage with future mini-splits. So we upgraded our 100 amp panel to a 200 amp. I am skipping here all the other snags that happened with this work. Then a team of three electricians worked a week on the knob and tube in our small 1930 home. The city’s inspector eventually signed off on everything; the chief electrician signed his forms, I paid everyone in full.

On our way to the mini-splits! More snags! The required weatherization tasks have yet to go forward. Phone messages and emails to MassSAVE and their RISE representative have not been answered. Our contract expires soon unless we get an extension to mid-February. What is going on? Perhaps MassSAVE and RISE are simply incompetent; or way overworked and underfunded; or a bunch of slouches; or vicious Republicans who want to undermine any initiative of Governor Maura Healey; or typical bureaucracies so tangled in their own regulations and power. And now new regulations await 2024? You’re kidding me.

Phyllis Muldoon