Energy Efficiency for Renters: NEEECO and All In Energy in Cambridge

The number of renters recently hit a 50-year high.

NEEECO works hard to increase the energy efficiency of all kinds of buildings. Most of our work and outreach is focused on homeowners. This leads many to wonder where renters fit into the picture. It’s an important question to consider. Why? More people are renting today than ever.

36.6% of households are renting. The last time renters made up more than that share of households was 1965.

Now NEEECO is pleased to participate in an innovative model being piloted in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts aimed squarely at reaching renters and landlords in 1-4 unit buildings. Cambridge has partnered with Boston-based non-profit All In Energy for the outreach effort, and NEEECO is the All In Energy’s partner serving as its Mass Save® home performance contractor.

Greater Energy Efficiency can Save Renters Money

There are several aspects of this effort that are worth noting. First, All In Energy and NEEECO can help renters save money if they are paying for their utilities on top of their rent. As All In Energy puts it on their website:

Whether you are a renter or a landlord, All In Energy will help you save money and make your home more comfortable through energy efficiency services. The services we provide are funded by the “energy efficiency” charge on your utility bill – we want to help you access the benefits you already pay for!

And even if utilities are included in the rent, landlords also have an incentive to realize energy efficiency savings by taking advantage of the no-cost home energy assessment, which will be conducted by NEEECO.

Secondly, All In Energy also has a special focus in its outreach to assist underserved populations. Renters, moderate-income households, non-native English speakers, and people of color might not realize how much money they could be saving on utility payments with the simple upgrades and services NEEECO provides as part of our standard home energy assessment. These can include the following:

  • ENERGY STAR® LED light bulbs
  • Advanced power strips
  • Low-flow showerheads
  • Faucet aerators
  • Programmable thermostats or discounted wireless thermostats (installed at a second appointment)

Thirdly, the program also provides an opportunity for workforce development to expand clean energy job opportunities for people of underrepresented groups through a paid, hands-on training program. As noted in a City of Cambridge Press Release about the program:

Through the partnership with the City, All In Energy and its partner NEEECO…will offer dedicated access to a Rental Property Energy Advisor for Cambridge renters. Earlier this month, All In Energy hired Cambridge resident Jean Alofan for the role. Alofan, who recently completed the Cambridge Community Learning Center’s Bridge to College Program, emigrated to Cambridge from West Africa and is fluent in seven languages, including English, Portuguese, and French. Through All In Energy’s workforce development program, Alofan will become certified as a Building Performance Institute Home Energy Auditor, enabling him to seek employment with other companies in the clean energy industry.

Fourthly, this type of energy efficiency outreach program focused on renters hinges upon putting time and effort into face-to-face interactions. The strategies All In Energy will use to reach the target population of renters include setting up information tables at local events and making presentations out in the community.

Mass Save® and Local Programs for Landlords

While the primary focus of the All In Energy programs is to reach individual renters, it’s important to note the landlord angle as well. Mass Save has two different programs depending on the number of units. For buildings with 1-4 units, landlords and property managers may be eligible for the following:

  • 2-4 unit buildings: 90% off recommended insulation improvements for each unit, if all eligible units in a 2–4 unit building participate (or 75% off per unit if only some participate).
  • 1 unit buildings: 90% off recommended insulation improvements for renter-occupied single family detached homes (or 75% off for owner-occupied units).
  • No-cost targeted air sealing of leaks in drafty areas.
  • The opportunity to apply for 0% HEAT Loan financing for eligible upgrades.

For buildings with 5+ units, landlords and property managers may qualify for the following:

  • Energy-efficient lighting upgrades and controls
  • Occupancy sensors
  • Water heating equipment
  • Low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and pipe wrap
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Insulation
  • Air sealing of drafty areas
  • High-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and controls
  • ENERGY STAR® certified refrigerators and other eligible appliances

There may even be more energy improvements for which landlords/owners are eligible, depending on the property and the results of NEEECO’s no-cost home energy assessment.

The program can also include a free solar assessment from Cambridge’s Solar Advisor to help a building save even more money. The Advisor will provide guidance, at no cost, to help work through questions like condo documents and net metering. They’ll help you get quotes from installers, too. Learn more on the Cambridge Multi-Family Retrofit Advisor page of the Cambridge Energy Alliance website. Building owners can also explore their solar energy options directly with NEEECO.

NEEECO is proud to be a part of this timely and much-needed outreach effort to bring energy efficiency to renters and landlords in Cambridge. Hopefully it will be successful enough to spur other cities and municipalities to follow suit and create their own innovative outreach programs to bring greater energy efficiency and financial savings to renters and landlords everywhere. It’s just one of the many ways NEEECO not only serves the energy efficiency needs of individual homeowners and renters alike, but is also participating in strategic partnerships to broaden the scope and reach of our work.

Call (781) 514-5882 or contact us to get started with a no-cost Mass Save® home energy assessment.