New Rebate Program - Mass Save Residential Renovations and Additions !

Additions include finishing previously unfinished parts of your home. How big is your attic?

Additions include finishing previously unfinished parts of your home. How big is your attic?

HIS & HERS Energy Efficiency is excited to announce that we are Verifiers for a new Mass Save rebate program for residential renovations and additions.

Rebates are based on the modeled energy savings of the upgraded home condition compared to the existing, pre-renovated, home.  Below is an overview of program design, rebate opportunities, and process. You can read about it on the Mass Save website here.
Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Context:  Addressing the Middle Energy Retrofit finally

This new rebate program has the potential to address historically missed opportunities for home energy performance upgrades. The fantastic ‘performance based’ rebates will drive builders and homeowners to consider efficiency upgrades while undergoing major renovation projects in Massachusetts.

A blower door test measures the rate of air infiltration in the house. It is advantageous to do a blower door test before any work starts. A final test will verify the reduction in air leakage, and the performance based rebate will account for the improvement.

A blower door test measures the rate of air infiltration in the house. It is advantageous to do a blower door test before any work starts. A final test will verify the reduction in air leakage, and the performance based rebate will account for the improvement.

I have been a critic of the Mass Save existing home program’s lack of incentives for comprehensive retrofits that follow principals of building science to drive well designed retrofit measures, beyond topical weatherization measures. The ‘Middle Energy Retrofit’ has been a ghost in Massachusetts rate-payer funded programs. Fortunately this new Mass Save Renovations & Additions path offers flexible financial incentives to Massachusetts rate payers, expanding beyond archaic ‘cost effectiveness metrics’ .

Streamlined process, no waiting for ‘no-cost’ energy audits  - The Verifier is the single point of contact

The R&A program offers ‘performance based’ incentives to finally address those mysterious freaky attics

The R&A program offers ‘performance based’ incentives to finally address those mysterious freaky attics

The design of the ‘R&A’  program is similar to the Mass Save New Construction program, and importantly- dissimilar to the popular and well known Mass Save HES program (‘free’ energy audits, discounted insulation etc) .  This provides the opportunity for the ‘Verifier’ (program partnered energy specialist) to be a key member of the project team and to report directly to the builder/owner for smooth communication, scheduling, and generally a better experience for all parties. The process will be consistent : all Verifiers are using the same software and following RESNET protocols and technical standards. Attention to principals of building science and health and safety are prioritized so the occupants health, safety, and building durability are paramount. This attention to health and safety, is extremely important when retrofitting older homes.

Integrating with Mass Save HES (Existing Home ’free’ energy audit program) 

There is the option of gong through both programs - Mass Save HES (the existing home ) and the R&A (renovations & additions). Portions of the existing home that are eligible for insulation rebates can work through the HES program. The treated building components are then excluded from the R&A models that calculate the performance based rebate. This hybrid approach is not recommended due to the added process complexity, but we’ll certainly keep it in mind while we assess rebate potential for your project. 

Mass Save Renovations and Additions Program requirements

Basic requirements:

  •  At minimum, 500 sq. ft. of surface area must be upgraded.

  •  Must be a building permit for the project (no DIY under the radar projects) 

  •  Must work with a program partnered Verifier. These are HERS Raters currently working in the Mass Save New Construction program.

  • Mass Save rate payers only . The project must be served by a major utility company.

Mass Save R&A process: starts in design, inspections during construction, rebates based on as-built energy model

Phase 1: Review the project details and explore rebate opportunities

Crawlspaces and basements have been mostly neglected by the ‘standard’ Mass Save (HES) program. The new R&A program can offer significant incentives for repairing these spaces properly.

Crawlspaces and basements have been mostly neglected by the ‘standard’ Mass Save (HES) program. The new R&A program can offer significant incentives for repairing these spaces properly.

  1. Energy model completed of the pre-retrofit/addition home conditions.

    • if no construction plans are available of the existing home, a site visit may be needed to take measurements.

    • an optional blower door test completed before the project starts will result in higher rebates and is highly recommended.

  2. Energy model of the designed upgraded conditions. 

    • HIS & HERS will include consultation as part of Phase1 - we’ll give input on cost effective best practices and recommendations for improvement measures relating to the thermal enclosure and mechanical systems.

    • The ’new’ conditions may include upgraded insulation, windows and/or mechanical equipment, with or without addition square footage added to the home.

  3. Construction starts 

    • The building team does their thing. Changes to energy related features are communicated to the Verifier so the energy model can be upgraded.

Phase 2: Verification

    Two site visits are required . Occasionally 3 visits will be needed.

  1. Insulation inspection

    • We will verify air barrier integrity and insulation quality.

  2. Final inspection 

    • Final air leakage and duct leakage testing, collection of required data to finalize the energy model. 

  3. Rebate submission

    • We handle all of the admin requirements. Rebates are mailed within 90 days. 

Is it worth it:  What are the rebates, what does it cost?

Mass Save rebates and incentives available:

Before you drop $50k on a new kitchen, see if some insulation upgrades should to be bundled in your equity loan. Rebates available!

Before you drop $50k on a new kitchen, see if some insulation upgrades should to be bundled in your equity loan. Rebates available!

  • The rebate is based on modeled energy savings of the new condition compared to the ‘old’ home condition .  So more savings calculated by our energy model amounts to a higher rebate.  We expect rebates to be around $2k-$4k for renovations/additions that include mechanical system and insulation upgrades.

  • Max rebate of $10,000 

  • Mechanical system rebates - electric heat pumps, natural gas heating, high efficiency A/C , high efficiency hot water . See the full list of Mass Save mechanical system rebates here [link]. We bundle all eligible rebates through Mass Save so you don’t need to go chasing down rebate forms etc. 

  • HEAT Loan  - 0% financing, 7 years for approved measures including mechanical equipment, insulation, and potentially knob/tube remediation. This is a unique opportunity to leverage this fantastic financing for energy improvements, beyond basic weatherization.

  • Energy consultant as 3rd party energy expert - A tremendous value! As your Verifier we provide independent recommendations and feedback for all things energy related. HIS & HERS includes a healthy level of this support in all of our projects. A higher level of consulting and energy modeling, is available at an hourly rate. 

Verifier fees

  • Due to the huge variety of projects that this program covers, pricing is project dependent.  Complete service for a single-family home, is anticipated at $800-$1100, depending on accuracy and completion of information provided. $350 is covered by the Mass Save program.

    • The Phase 1 discovery phase will be covered by the first payment and will typically be around $500 for a single family home undergoing a major renovation . The more details that are provided, construction documents, the less the Phase 1 fee will be.   Phase 2 Verification costs will cover the site visits - This will vary based on complexity of the home, travel requirements, and accuracy of the designed specifications compared to the as-built home. 

  • A challenge inherent to this program is that since the rebates are based on the energy models (pre and post improvement), some cost to modeling is required up front, before a projected rebate can be determined. The sooner the Verifier is involved in the design phase, the more value can be received from this energy modeling process. It is worth noting that major renovation projects may require a 3rd party blower door test by the building inspector to demonstrate code compliance. This test is included in the Verifier’s scope.

  • Our sense is that an existing older home with upgraded heating/cooling systems and 20%+ of the thermal boundary (envelope) upgraded with attention to air-barrier improvement, the rebates will be great.  For homes that are having heat pumps installed to replace, or offset an older heating system, and having an addition and/or major insulation improvements, the rebates will be excellent.

The Mass Save Renovations and Additions rebate program is a fantastic tool for combating energy waste in the existing Massachusetts housing stock.

Rebates and incentives can drive investments in insulation and high efficiency mechanical system upgrades. There is great value in having a Certified HERS rater on the project team, to ensure the investments in home improvements and a new addition are made to ensure efficiency of energy consumption and that the upgraded home is not only beautiful, but is healthy and durable .

Be in touch to chat about your project in Western Massachusetts.