High-efficiency heating equipment credits for Massachusetts homeowners

High-efficiency heating equipment credits for Massachusetts homeowners

Submitted by Joseph Wood, owner of Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating in Boston, Mass.

With the chill in the air, you know that winter is just around the corner, and winter means home heating season in Massachusetts. Homeowners who are looking to tame the high cost of home heating should know about a program currently available through MassSave that can help reduce the cost of replacing their current heating system.

"MassSave offers a number of rebates to help reduce the cost of converting to a high-efficiency heating system," says Joseph Wood, owner of Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating in Boston. "These rebates can reduce the cost of a new furnace or boiler by as much as $1,600, depending upon the equipment being installed."

According to Wood, one of the nicest features of the MassSave program is a 0 percent financing plan that allows homeowners to borrow as much as $25,000 over 7 years to replace home heating equipment with qualified, energy-efficient models. Rental properties also qualify for the rebate and 0 percent financing program.

MassSave is a program sponsored by participating gas and electric utilities (including National Grid and NSTAR) in the State of Massachusetts. Homeowners who live in the sponsoring companies' service areas are eligible to participate, provided that they install equipment that qualifies as highly efficient. Natural gas furnaces with an annual fuel usage efficiency rating (AFUE) of at least 92 percent or better qualify for rebates of between $400 and $800.

For homes that use forced hot water boilers, conversion to a high-efficiency gas-fired unit can net a rebate if the AFUE rating of the replacement equipment meets or exceeds 85 percent. Rebates of between $500 and $1,500 are available, depending upon the efficiency of the replacement equipment.

Homeowners can receive rebates of between $1,000 and $1,600 on condensing boilers with integrated water heaters, depending upon the efficiencies of the installed equipment. A combination condensing boiler/water heater must be at least 85% efficient and must include a water heater with an energy factor of at least .86 to qualify for the $1,000 rebate. A combination boiler/hot water heater whose efficiency is at least 90% can receive a rebate of $1,600 when paired with a water heater whose energy factor is at least .9.

If a new furnace or boiler isn't in the immediate future, homeowners can still receive a rebate of $25 simply for installing a programmable, 7-day thermostat. Likewise, homeowners who use boilers can also qualify for a rebate of $200 for installing a neat device called a boiler reset or an outdoor reset control (ORC).

"An outdoor reset control is a really nice device that manages the effort of the boiler," says Wood. "It works by monitoring the outside air temperature. When the thermostat inside the home senses a drop in the inside temperature, it sends that information to the ORC instead of the boiler."

Wood continues, "The ORC compares the outside and inside temperatures to determine how much heat the boiler needs to produce to return the home to the preset temperature." In effect, says Wood, the ORC acts as a fine-tuning adjustment for the boiler. Instead of heating water to the maximum temperature, the boiler works just hard enough to return the home to the correct temperature.

Without a reset control, the boiler will simply heat to its own preset temperature and blast heated water through the system. Each time the thermostat senses a drop in temperature, the boiler will fire. This can lead to short cycling and very inefficient heating.

Why not just adjust the boiler to heat to a lower temperature? "Adjusting the maximum heating temperature of the boiler could make a home uncomfortably cold on the coldest of winter days," says Wood. "From an efficiency standpoint, it's better to leave the boiler's preset maximum temperature alone and manage boiler operations on warmer winter days with an ORC."

The savings from this approach can also add up quickly. According to Heat-Timer, a manufacturer of outdoor reset controls, every 4-degree drop in a boiler's maximum temperature produces a 1% reduction in energy consumption. If the ORC can reduce the boiler's set point from 180°F to 120°F, that will reduce energy consumption by 15%.

Wood says that the MassSave program also offers rebates to homeowners who want to replace their water heaters with a higher-efficiency model. These rebates range between $50 and $800, depending upon the type of water heater installed.

"The MassSave program is a nice way for homeowners to reduce the cost of converting to a more energy-efficient heating system," says Wood. He cautions, however, that homeowners need to be aware of the program rules before conducting any system replacements. "We would be happy to work with Boston homeowners to ensure that they benefit from the MassSave rebate and financing programs."

For more information about MassSave rebates or financing program for residential heating and water heating equipment, visit MassSave.com.

As of Oct. 7, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

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