After buying their first house—a 1950s Eichler tract home in Palo Alto, California—my parents were afraid they might have made a terrible mistake. My mom tells the story like this:
It turns out that that roof insulation job was just the first of many rounds of insulation that my parents added to the house over the course of my childhood. And as someone who has lived through multiple renovations, let me say this: if you’re going to insulate your house, you’ll be much happier doing the whole thing at once rather than doing it piecemeal.
The insulation upgrades I lived through as a child caused a wide smile to spread across my face when I came across National Grid’s Deep Energy Retrofit program. The program, which National Grid is running as a pilot in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, provides incentives of up to $42,000 to residential customers to perform a whole-house super insulation upgrade, or “deep energy retrofit” (DER). The result is energy reductions of 50 to 90 percent. The scope of the program, and the astounding size of the incentives it offers, make it one of the first of its kind among residential energy-efficiency programs. According to program manager Dave Legg, a number of factors allowed National Grid to provide such high incentives for the program:
- Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s cold weather,
- Clean energy legislation in these states,
- Strong regulatory support,
- National Grid’s commitment to climate change action,
- The longevity of DER measures, and
- The local jobs that DERs create.
Though the program still faces some barriers—there are cost-effectiveness concerns because the Total Resource Cost test doesn’t include the full range of DER benefits—Legg believes that the pilot will likely be transitioned into a full program, albeit with slightly lower incentives, if these barriers can be overcome.
You can get a solid overview of this and other exceptional programs by checking out DSMdat, the E Source database of over 3,000 demand-side management (DSM) and renewable energy programs.
We’re always on the lookout for new utility and state DSM programs that are unique, progressive, or just downright cool, so be sure to let me know if you’ve seen any such programs, or run one at your utility.
May 2011 DSMdat updates: Added 19 new programs and updated 164 programs.