Insulation and air sealing are a cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
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Webinar: Insulation and Air Sealing Coaching and Installation for as little as $0
Insulation and Air Sealing Coaching and Installation for as little as $0
Gabe Shapiro - Gabe
Tatianna Suriel – Tatianna
James Collins – James
Ken - Ken
Douglas Quattrochi -Doug
Doug: Just some fast facts about MassLandlords. For those of you who don't know, we're a 501(c)6 nonprofit trade association. Our mission is to create better rental housing by helping owners run profitable, compliant quality businesses.
We need to make money to provide housing year after yea. We need to follow all the laws to be effective advocates to change them, and we want to be proud to be associated with one another. We are democratically governed. We have an annual election for the board of directors. We have an ongoing policy priority survey where members decide what we're going to work on. We are growing very quickly 2,000 dues-paying members, 6,000 newsletter subscribers, 300, 000 site visitors so if you haven't yet take advantage of our member services, look at our and read our newsletter and look at our free articles on our site. If you're interested in helping us with some of this policy work that we do or just getting the word out some of the new Mass Save changes and other things that are available like this free webinar which we're offering as a service please become a property rights supporter to help us advance our work.
I’m going to stop sharing my screen and introduce our speakers while they get their slides up and running,
We are joined today by Gabe Shapiro and Tatianna Suriel of All In Energy. All In Energy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission to accelerate an inclusive clean energy economy including by expanding access to Mass Save and supporting property owners to navigate the programs, which as you know are potentially complicated. They're not the contractors and they're not the funding source, though. They're an independent guide, which is in many ways more valuable. They can answer the question how do I get this done, given all the different program parameters and everything that's out there and the basic premise is just with one phone call you can help accessing the programs that your buildings are eligible for no cost to you. They offer customer support and advocacy with the Mass Save program, meaning if you're hitting some roadblock they'll help you get through that, and most importantly to me they provide service to you and your renters in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, which is really valuable.
So please join me in welcoming with a virtual round of applause our speakers, Gabe, and Tatianna.
Gabe: Thank you so much, Doug, for that introduction. A very good description of what we're trying to accomplish and thank you all for joining us this this afternoon to talk about uh both the many, many, many positives of our state energy programs and the minor complexities that we're trying to workout especially for landlords and renters.
I am Gabe Shapiro. I’m the co-founder and co-executive director of All In Energy and Tatianna Suriel is joining us who leads a lot of our partnerships and programs.
I will just advance my slide here. Just in terms of our agenda, we're going to tell you a little bit about the organization real fast. It’s going to be a little redundant with what you just heard, so we won't spend too much time on that. Then we're going to spend a little bit like a do a quick top five I’m like why you want to make your buildings more efficient. Hopefully, you're all onboard already with that idea since you've joined us today. Then I’m going to talk a little bit about just the basics of what you can get from our you know nation-leading energy efficiency programs here in Massachusetts, spend a little bit of time on why it actually is a little bit complicated especially for folks like you who might have a portfolio of lots of different building types, and then we'll talk again one slide about All In Energy can help, and then generously some of the folks who actually administer these programs have joined us on this call, so if you have any questions about the LEAN and Low-Income Multifamily Building Program or the Low-Income Program or the Multifamily Program, we've got some representatives from those programs who can answer any detailed questions that would go beyond my expertise, so we'll leave some we'll leave some time for that conversation as well.
All In Energy is, as Doug described, we're trying to accelerate a transition to an inclusive clean energy economy, and that really means that we um are really trying to focus on uh buildings and occupants that have historically had low participation rates in the programs of no fault of their own, so we do a lot of work in these multiple languages as Doug mentioned. We work to connect low to moderate-income families and small businesses to the programs. But a lot of our work is actually trying to make sure that rental properties are able to benefit from the program as well.
We do both a bottom-up approach of engaging with renters, letting them know that they're eligible to receive light bulbs and other benefits through the program, but increasingly we've been doing a lot of work working directly with landlords and through some of that work we got introduced to Doug and we're invited to do this session, so we're excited about that.
I think one of the reasons we're really focused on that this year is there some incentives, especially for one to four unit rental properties so small rental properties that are going to expire this year so like this is really a year that we want to make sure all landlords know about this program even if they've thought about it in the past that they know what's happening with the program this year so they can take advantage of all these benefits and we can help get all these units weatherized while it might be at a at no cost for a limited time.
Primarily the way that we work to kind of build trust with these different populations who have those historical low participation rates is we partner directly with cities and towns. We got started in 2018 in Dorchester, expanded to Cambridge. Specifically working with rental properties in Cambridge was our was our mission there, which has now expanded. We launched our first fully bilingual Spanish programming in the Merrimack valley in 2020, making sure that all the families there can connect to the services, not only learn about the programs in Spanish but also connect to Spanish-speaking energy specialists.
Most of our work I will also recognize is in the one- to four-family Mass Save program, but we work with a coalition of vendors to make things easier and talk a little bit about that in the future of the presentation, and then just this last year we've expanded our Spanish language program to Chelsea and Haverhill. We picked up Andover is the neighboring Merrimack Valley Community and then we are launching our first trilingual program that incorporates Portuguese in Framingham and we're still you know building infrastructure to fully serve Portuguese speakers. We've got everything we need on our end but trying to identify energy specialists and other vendors who can deliver services in Portuguese. We're still working through that.
I’m going to turn it over to Tatianna just to do our quick like you know top five reasons you might want to consider energy efficiency, and then I’ll take back the mic in a little bit to tell you a little bit about the different programs that are available and how we can help you access them.
Tatianna: Thank you, Gabe. Thank you all for joining us. Clearly you've already taken the first step and are interested in energy efficiency, but we want to address some of the other benefits that may not necessarily be as crystal clear.
Sorry, Gabe. I need [crosstalk 0:07:11] — Thank you.
So first and foremost something that you may not necessarily think about when you are sealing the envelopes of your building, so stopping the air from leaving or infiltrating you are actually doing things such as reducing insect and rodent infiltration, whether that be through your attic through your basement, any of those air spaces.
The other thing, too is with noise levels so this isn't usually considered something that's energy efficiency related. It does have an environmental impact, but by insulating the walls you can reduce noise levels coming into the building and of course that will lead to happier tenants.
Then reducing maintenance and equipment costs, so right now if without these energy efficiency measures your maintenance equipment is working very heavily and intensely in order to provide this energy and when you have these insulations in the future you may be able to one either have smaller HVAC systems implemented.
the other thing is because the life expectancy on these equipment may actually last longer because of less usage when it comes time to replace it again you'll be able to have smaller systems but also less maintenance on these original pieces of equipment.
Attracting and retaining tenants, so the biggest thing with these energy efficiency programs are – sorry not the biggest but one of the very important things is by having installation or by having any of these efficiency measures, you can make your building more comfortable, less drafty and that in turn also reduce the cost for tenants who pay utility bills. For example, I myself I am a tenant. I rent an apartment building and I know for a fact that if I’m more comfortable in my building, I am more likely to sign a lease. But another thing is something I think with my generation especially we are keeping in mind sustainable actions and really thinking about our carbon footprint and where we want to go next with that. But also if I am more likely to have a lower cost utility bill and be comfortable both of those measures are more likely to have me re-sign my lease or those are just things that I will be considering in the future when looking for a new apartment.
Of course these apply to landlords as well because in some cases landlords are the ones paying the utility bills not necessarily the tenants and it can reduce overall costs and depending on the program there are pretty rapid paybacks with low to no investment and at the end of the day it's also reducing your building's overall carbon footprint on the environment.
Lastly but definitely not least this is likely the number one and most important reason is in the state of Massachusetts, these programs really do make it possible and affordable to participate and you can learn what you're eligible for at completely no cost by having starting with the energy assessment and that can be done virtually or in person with COVID safe protocols in place. There are many programs right now that are offering 100 percent incentives but most importantly everyone is already paying for these energy measures, so if you look on the slide there's a screenshot of an Eversource electric bill and there's an energy efficiency charge that every utility payer is paying into monthly, but in order to receive these benefits, you must participate in the program, so if you yourself do not participate in the program there are other landlords in other places that are participating and are getting the benefits.
If those aren't five great reasons to participate, I don't know what is. In that case I’m going to turn it right back over to Gabe and he’ll talk about how these programs work and the different programs that exist.
Gabe: Thanks Tatianna. Yes, there's numerous. We could have done 25 reasons instead of five to participate in these clean energy programs, but hopefully those top five especially you know focusing right in on the fact that you're already paying for these incentives you might as well take advantage of them. The entry point is always free and you know there's really rapid paybacks if you're paying your energy bills, so let me get into the talk a little bit about the programs.
I think what I wanted you to take away, with all the programs are a little bit different. It depends on and I’ll go into the next slide and it's a little bit of reason why it's complicated. It could be complicated to access all these programs. but all of them start with a no-cost no-obligation energy assessment. They're all being done virtually or in person, and you're going to get things that are going to save who's ever paying the electric and hot water bill money instantly, the heating bill, so you know the up through so this one expiring incentive.
Some of the programs are phasing out LED light bulbs at the end of 2021, so the Mass Save One to Four Residential Program, light bulbs have been a big part of that program over the years. This is the last year we're going to be able to take advantage of those, so those go right in and replace incandescent. You get programmable thermostats, high-efficiency shower heads. On some of the multifamily programs, in addition you get motion sensors for your lighting, other types of controls um all that are part of you know instantly reducing your energy use through some of these easily installable measures, and then all the programs are also going to look at the envelope of the building. This is more relevant for some building types than others.
Someone asked in the question like to please restate the 2021 expiring incentives, so this is really what that is. If you through the regular home energy services One to Four Unit Mass Save program, Market Rate Mass Save program, all of the insulation work done in rental units in those buildings for this year is 100 percent off insulation and air sealing. This is the first time. The program implemented that post-COVID to make sure like the that you know we didn't lose momentum on hitting our goals as a state and they've extended it through this year and that's like a really great opportunity.
We’re definitely going to understand that US landlords are making investments in these buildings. If you don't pay the energy bills, you're not necessarily going to get an immediate financial return from those energy savings, but this really wipes away the financial considerations or most of them because you can get that work done for 100 percent no cost to you and it's this great opportunity, time limited to take advantage of this to get all that that money put into your building.
The low-income programs, both the one to four unit and the multiunit building, almost all the measures are no cost or maybe all of them are no cost and that includes more deeper measures as well – efficient heating and cooling and appliances, so that's the that's the one piece.
I did actually want to mention it's worth it to like try to get your tenants qualified for the income-eligible programs. The income-eligible programs are made available by the income of the occupants, so they may require an additional work and this is another way that we can help you organizing your tenants to understand what they're eligible for.
First of all, they can just get some help paying their bills, so through the fuel assistance program they get help paying their winter heating bills and I thought an interesting part of the program that I didn't uh that I think not as many people know about is even if their rent to you includes the utility bills, they can still access this fuel assistance program and instead of making a payment, in most cases there's some caveats around like Section 8 housing and other subsidies, but in most cases the payment can be made to you directly from the CAP agency instead of having that direct payment made to the utility.
If your tenants are struggling to pay rent and even if the heat is included, you can sort of benefit from this program. They can get some payments made to you directly on their behalf for their rent and then they could be they're eligible if they income qualify for just a reduction in their utility bills, so their electric and gas rate will just get a discounted rate if they income qualify as well um and even if those things aren't directly benefiting you like anything that allows them to pay their rent and stay in their unit, I think is beneficial and it's also just you know nice to make them aware of these programs that can help them
Then the other reason to sort of get them income qualified is that you will get access to almost everything. Caveat, when I say everything I think almost everything will be done at no cost, everything that qualifies that includes all the weatherization. You become eligible for appliance upgrades in in some cases.
There is replacement of qualifying heating and hot water equipment at no cost as well in addition to like electrification through heat pumps. Maybe there’s some additional work to get your building qualified to do an income survey or to make sure that 50 percent or more of the building qualifies for the low-income program but it's going to unlock a lot a lot more incentives to the program.
I’m not sure if this might be a good time if there's anyone from the LEAN program on the call who wanted to like chime in to give a plug on that. This might be a decent a decent time for you to give a pitch. If that's too complicated, Doug, to let people, speak let me know we can just have them.
Doug: No, it's easy. Just raise your hand if you'd like permission.
Gabe: Okay. James, if you want to add anything let me know.
Doug: James, you are now able to unmute.
James: Thank you, Gabe, and thank you everyone for allowing us a chance, opportunity to talk about the programs as well. So Gabe did a great job sort of summarizing what the low-income programs offer, and I think and expect some of you have had maybe some interaction with local CAP agencies or maybe you've heard about the programs, but we do operate in just about every city in town. Again just like the rest of Mass Save, municipalities are not part of the program; however, we do offer some other benefits related to efficiency in some of those municipalities through some of our other programs, which are benefits to the residents as well similar to what Gabe mentioned, but we do try to streamline the process.
I think one of the benefits additional benefits of the low income programs or the income eligible programs is that not only do we provide 100 percent incentives, we also provide we call the quarterbacking model, which is essentially the interface or what you consider like a general contractor. I call it general contractor plus because we manage not only the scoping of the work, identifying what measures we can install but also coordinating contracting directly with the contractors, managing quality control, and also and ensuring on the backend those contractors are paid to the program. We act as sort of an as an agent for the residents and homeowners and contractors to ensure that the project scopes are being delivered in the right way and questions are answered you know with our expert field auditors, so that's an additional piece to it.
I’m not sure if Gabe mentioned that it's a pretty simple process to at least get started with getting residents enrolled. We do have a statewide website, which we can share at the end of the presentation, which we’ll provide information not only the programs but also how to apply if you're in a five-plus unit building, if you want a five plus unit building, and also for the one to four residential program, so thank you.
Gabe: Thanks, James, and yes that's a great segue into this next slide. As I was mentioning, there's different entry points and like these are things you can and are welcome to do yourself to access the different sites and sign up, but like really what we're trying to do at All In Energy is making it make it easier for you to access these by if you call us, we can pull up that application for you and fill it out on your behalf if you'd like us to and then kind of do that for each set of buildings.
Basically the programs are divided between the single-family and small multifamily programs, which go up to four units and then we've got the five-plus unit building, so this is if you're looking at this two by two matrix. You've got the units on the on the Y-axis and the X-axis. They're also divided by income so and again that's the income of the tenants or the occupants of the buildings.
There are very good reasons why the program has been divided in this way and the service delivery entities like ABCD and the low-income folks on LEAN and the lead contractors and the lead vendors and all the whole contractors all do a great job and they do probably a better job because they are specialized in these areas, but it does mean that there are different entry points for all four of these different types of buildings and that's where it can start to get complicated. If you are a building owner that has a portfolio that spans these, you got to make several calls. You might get your building bumped from one program to the other when you learn about the income of the tenants. You might have mixed-income buildings, which make things complicated, so that's not to say that you shouldn't try.
It’s worth it to get all the benefits from these programs, but what we're trying to do is just make it easier to provide a way to help you navigate all of these things and in some cases we can just set appointments for you on the phone. In other cases like with the portal, which is very nice and convenient that LEAN has put together it looks really good. It’s really easy to access, but we could just like fill that out with you on the phone while you're setting up your other appointments and yes like try to make it easier to access all four of these programs at once at least get you started in the right place but this is why it is a little bit more complicated than it than it could be is just because there's these different specialized service delivery organizations that offer the right incentives for those building types, which is great but makes it a little bit more complicated to access.
Then I did see a question in the chat about municipal utilities. James also mentioned them. They have different programs. Often most of our municipal utilities are electric providers, so often if you have a building that's in one of those towns on the chart. On the left is these towns in pink are the municipal utilities and then similarly on the right, there's just a few gas utilities that we have.
A question in the Q&A was about Holyoke, which is one of the only communities that has both municipal gas and electric. These programs vary by with each community. They're not connected directly to the Mass Save program, which is the programming that that we're talking spending most of the time talking about today. It is largely the benefit of that is that they are the sort of one stop for those communities. If you can contact the municipal utilities there and they can connect you with what's eligible though if your building is in an electric municipal electric town but heats with gas from one of the investor-owned utilities you're often eligible to participate in in these programs.
Again, if you give us a call or set up an appointment we can help you navigate this. I can't say that we have a direct connection with all these 40 to 50 municipal electric utilities. We can definitely help you come up with a game plan to contact them for your buildings as well. Then just like a couple other things to keep in mind that there are some other potential challenges beyond just the kind of different programming especially on the income-eligible piece. You are going to have to do some coordination with your tenants. You're at the minimum for the one to four-unit building just like provide the tenants’ names that are on the utility bills just so that they can like verify that's the right to connect it to the utility account they have and make sure it's eligible for those incentives.
CAP agencies, we've worked with some landlords who have discovered that their buildings are occupied by income eligible families and the cap agencies have asked us to have instead of having the landlord take action on that building, they really need the qualifying client to reach out so there's some discussion that has to happen around there and in some cases where the attendants have to reach out to request the services and then obviously in many cases you got to get into the tenants’ unit to do the actual work, so there's some coordination with tenants. This is something that we can help you do. We talk to tenants every day. We have these different language capabilities. We can help if you don't you know want to have these conversations about income with your tenant or um just don't want to you know take the time to do all this organizing, this is something that we can do for you at All In Energy.
Then the other thing that with talking to some of the vendors they wanted me to mention as a caveat is that you do and especially in older buildings can and encounter some pre-weatherization barriers that would prevent you from taking advantage of all the program incentives, this is most commonly old knob and tube wiring or heating systems that are so old or need in need of cleaning that they're emitting high levels of carbon monoxide, which would make it potentially unsafe to seal the building up tighter. Then they might find evidence of mold moisture, asbestos, vermiculite again that they would just need to be remediated or you know to have some expert deem that this is safe before moving forward.
I know most of you have your own contractors that can kind of do this work for you, but if you're in need of that that's another service that we can provide to help you find some contractors either you know check these off to say okay yes the knob and tube wiring is disconnected but was never removed, check that box. You can move forward with the weatherization or if you need like an HVAC company, we can help you find one to get these barriers removed and move on with your work.
Then another thing that I just wanted to make talk about a little bit as well is we work with some landlords in these cities who are nervous to have us to access the programs. We're doing a lot of our marketing as mentioned with the cities, so some of them have some fear about some of the information that might be found in the audit getting back to the city like there's a building code violation or there's too many tenants living in the unit like I just wanted to let you all know that none of that information is going to be shared back with the city. This is all strictly between the landlord and the and the vendor. They're really just there to address the energy issues, so that's one of the trust issues that we deal with is around like landlords being nervous about having people come into their uh the buildings that they own, but um nothing is going to get shared back with the city.
We have tenants that are nervous about legitimately earned nervousness around immigration enforcement like none of the information is going to get to ICE, and then also we're not going to like share any findings about the building with the tenants so like they're not going to if they learn that there's something wrong, information is going back to you and not to your attendance so that's just to allay some of the fears you might have moving forward with the program. This is all going to be kept in a confidential space.
Just one slide.
I have kind of referenced it but like really how we're trying to make this easier for landlords is just to try to set up as a one-stop shop entry point so like we're not going to be one-stop shop. We might say, “Okay, here is the…there may be some homework for you to do. Once you, call us we might we in some cases we're going to be able to schedule appointments for you and get those buildings taken care of. In other cases like with the LEAN program and the Multifamily program we can capture all the information from you and fill out the forms that you would have to fill out to get started, and then you know you'll get an outbound call from James's group or maybe ABCD or the multifamily vendors and they'll take you from there, but you'll have like got the process started on one phone call.”
“Then in some cases um we're not going to be able to do that for you but we can at least give you the clear next steps of like which buildings qualify for which programs and get you started on helping you connect with the next vendors, but for a majority of buildings we'll be able to like get you get you get you started.
Then I also reference this we're happy to coordinate with your tenants. We can make the phone calls. We get their utility information. We can get them on board and get buy-in on the program. We're providing the support in additional languages, and then finally I also mentioned this we can sort of help you move roadblocks and barriers and that may be that there's a preauthorization barrier. Maybe that I don't know in some rare cases they've been like you've had an issue with the vendor or whatever we can sort of act as a an advocate or a liaison to like clear up questions if you don't feel like you're getting what you need. These vendors do a great job, but there's a handful of cases we had to step in to advocate on behalf of the of the client, so that's really it.
We've got a great team that's excited to like further our mission by helping these rental units be weatherized. You can give us a call anytime Monday through Friday. Hopefully, we'll get somebody answering the call, but you can leave a voicemail anytime. We'll get back to you really quickly. You can visit our website at allinenergy.org/mall. It says mall but it's really just M-A-L-L, MassLandlords, and you'll get a landing page where you can easily fill out your information and we'll give you a call back.
I should, as James referenced, put up the resource list of all the different if you wanted to do this like the DIY version of this of how you can access all these different programs. Maybe I’ll work with Doug to email that out as a follow-up, but yes you're welcome.
Gabe: We're here to help. We're also not here to get in your way if you wanted to go directly. All your buildings are low-income multifamily going directly to the LEAN site and phone that application on yourself is definitely a welcome and recommended pathway as well. We just want to be here to support you if you need it and it's part of our mission and we're here to offer that complimentary service to help you move your buildings forward.
Doug: And that's great. Thank you all. There could be no stronger testimonial to someone's willingness to do what's right than saying, “You don't even have to go through us. Here's the resource list and go do it yourself directly if you like,” so thank you for that.
Questions and Answers
Doug: We do have some questions about eligibility.
Monica asks in the chat, “Do commercial properties qualify?”
Gabe: The great thing about our Mass Save program is there are programs for every different building type, so what I just described are the non-commercial programs, the residential programs, and we at All In Energy don't do as much work with commercial properties. The most work that we do is on very small commercials so like Main Street businesses. We work with our cities to connect folks to those programs, but yes we don't do as much as much as much work on the large commercial side, but there are programs for them.
I think if you want to register we can help you navigate that as well and I don't want to oversell our expertise on those programs, but I’m knowing as much as we do about the other programs we can probably point you in the right direction.
Also I should say just as a resource the masssave.com website also has all of this information, and they can definitely do some traffic control as well to like point you in the right place and that's a good great resource to learn about the other programs that we didn't cover today.
Doug: All right great, so it sounds like the answer is yes commercial could be covered just not typically through All In Energy, but if they contact you, you can point them in the right direction?
Gabe: Right. Also masssave.com good resource as well.
Doug: Great. All right I hope that helps, Monica.
Dan asks and there's a related question from Brady in a minute. “You've got an empty apartment. Does that count not occupied?”
Gabe: Typically there needs to be an active utility account connected to the unit. Most of my experience is with the small residential market rate program and that's what's typically been the case. If there's an active utility bill, you can usually access the programs. James, if you're still on, you can talk about how both for the weatherization assistance program and LEAN deals with empty units, I’d appreciate that. Still with us, James?
James: I am. I don't know if—
Gabe: Thank you, thank you. You’re good.
Doug: We can hear you.
James: Okay great. We do in in the five-plus unit properties, generally we are able to do the work for the entire building. On the one- to four-family program, it's a little more nuanced. Again we do need an active utility account, but there are some exceptions because we leverage other funding in some cases from the feds in the state for similar work. We are in in some instances able to provide specifically weatherization services when there's a vacant unit as long as the property meets the requirements, so we would still need to have what we call the fifty percent rule at least, 50 percent of the residential units meeting the income qualifying criteria. So again not all the residents need to meet the criteria. It’s the 50 percent rule applies to all building sizes.
Doug: Okay, and is it particularly that you need a renter or if there is an active utility account but it's in the landlord's name, is that okay as long as you're just counting you've got at least so many residents here meet the requirements?
James: Yes, exactly so we would just need to have the income screening and then that backend client account data is really more of how we attribute where work is completed.
Gabe: And on the Market Rate Program—
James: So the answer—okay.
Gabe: I was just going to say on the market rate program if there's an active utility bill that's all anyone needs to know about the building.
Doug: Okay, so to summarize for Dan, if these are market rate rentals and the utility is in his name as the landlord while this unit's empty, you could go ahead.
Doug: And if they're low income rentals, you might be able to go ahead based on the average, the sum, or the majority or something like that of the renters in the building.
Gabe: Sounds right to me.
Doug: Okay, okay great.
Now related question from Brady. “I’ve got a unit that's empty and under renovation, and can the cost of the weatherization be looked at as part of that renovation work? Maybe you save some access because you don't have to open walls. You've already got it done or does it have to be done standalone weatherization?”
Gabe: Renovations are a little bit more complicated. The program typically does not at least again on the one- to four-unit, market rate program will not perform work during a renovation. It’s often because some of these energy measures are code related that uh they rely on the building owner. They don't want to subsidize work that would have to be done because of code. When there's a renovation happening, you're pulling building permits, you have to like do certain weatherization measures to get up to code, so they don't they won't subsidize the part of—
Doug: I see.
Gabe: What you want to have them do is exactly what they don't want to do so, which is like subsidize work that you'd have to do anyway because of the renovation to bring the building up to code, so engaging yes. So I think there's you got to figure out the timing when you're when you've got a renovation happening, if you want the subsidies to happen, but I’m not making these rules but they don't want to you know put funding in that you would you know would be required by law and code to do without the subsidy.
James: And I could—
Doug: The purpose of—go ahead.
James: I was just going to add and it's a little more nuanced also depending on how deep you're going in the renovation, so if you're not going down to the studs but you're doing like a kitchen and bath reno, that's not actually touching insulation in the walls and you can coordinate that work at the same time—
Gabe: Yes, that’s right. Great point.
James: That can happen.
Gabe: Yes, great point. If you're going to the studs, they won't subsidize it It’s a great additional clarifying comment exactly that.
Doug: Yes, so another way to say it is the purpose of the public funding is to get people off the dime where they don't have to do anything at all. It’s just a building that's sitting there and it's occupied and we need to make it more energy efficient.
Gabe: Right, but I think like yes along with James's point if the building is you're taking advantage of the fact that you have a tenant there to do some random like aesthetic renovations that aren't going to the studs, it might be a good time to bring in you know the crews that are going to do the insulation and coordinate that and you would be eligible to do that if it's not a to the studs renovation.
Doug: Right, yes absolutely okay.
Now speaking of code, Stan asks, “I heard a while back that there are programs to replace knob and tube and that's only a problem because it can't be insulated over. How does that play into the weatherization program?”
Gabe: Yes, I’m going to let James hop in on the low income side. On the market right side, there are some ways to finance the replacement. There aren't subsidies to like some of those are very expensive projects, so on the market right side you can the things that they will allow you to that the program will pay for is the evaluation to determine if the knob and tube is active and a lot of times it's just disconnected but not removed by the by the electrician.
There are some cases there well yes so you can like finance it potentially through the heat load to do the rewiring if it is active and I will note it is important that this is only an issue primarily around insulation, so it wouldn't prevent you from like upgrading your heating systems or doing some other work. Really the danger that knob and tube represents is for like dense packing insulation in the walls or doing like attic and basement insulation. I don't know, James, if the low income programs are able to do like full rewires. I’ll let you answer that.
James: Yes and just to piggyback on what Gabe said, I don't believe either that air sealing would be restricted for knob and tube so that you could still have opportunity for some weatherization work. In the low-income programs, we actually have repairs funding, so we are able to do knob and tube inspections and cover that cost as well as knob and tube remediation or removal where it's necessary.
There are some caveats related to costs as it relates to the efficiency work, and it's more sort of program protocol if the knob and tube wiring is three times the amount of the efficiency cost to remove, it's not supported by the program, but we will facilitate again the inspection and removal process if it fits into the sort of cost structure that the program allows. There are other things like roof repairs and gutter repairs and anything that essentially could impede or prohibit us from doing weatherization, we consider under the program again within cost parameters but I’d say it's a pretty good pathway to get those things removed.
Gabe: That's a good point. I need to update my why you should income qualify like access the benefits of doing the extra work to income qualify like no cost removal of those health and safety barriers is another reason why it's beneficial for you to go through the work of uh of getting folks your tenants income qualified as well. It’s a good point.
Doug: But again for the purpose of our webinar here, the main takeaway for attendees is not that they need to understand I’m market rate or I’m income qualified or anything. The main point is they can call you and you know all this stuff, so they can figure out here's your knob and two problem, here are your options.
Gabe: Right, and I guess you know as you can see from this back and forth with James like adding additional information, we would say you're qualified for the low income program. We're going to get you set up with LEAN or with ABCD, and they'll take you from there. But then you'll be connected with the actual program expert we're really the first step to getting you started in the process to make that easy and streamlined and then you know we've got all the experts that can answer all of your questions once you're going down that pathway, but yes thank you. It’s a good point.
Doug: Okay, yes and that is the value delivered because the program and the funding aspect of it is quite complicated so I hope that helps with your knob and tube issues, Stan.
And then VJ asks, “Windows and doors are major heat sinks. Why do these programs not address windows and doors especially replacement of drafty windows?”
Gabe: Right, and I’ll start um on that one. So it really is like a cost effectiveness metric. All of these our public dollars are the program is strictly monitored to make sure that those public dollars have an energy ROI and a savings ROI if that makes sense by the guidelines of the program that's overseen by the DPR and the DPU um and I guess the short answer is that windows and doors are expensive and they don't often meet the cost effectiveness criteria for the programs.
Alittle more nuanced answer is that there are all these other measures that windows can be a big source of heat loss, but there are many other measures that you can take before getting to windows that would have a better ROI for you both on the dollar savings but also on the energy reduction.
The last thing that I’ll add is drafty windows are often caused by a drafty envelope in general, and by really focusing on sealing up the basement and the attic of your building, it stops what's a phenomenon called the stack effect where like air comes into your basement, gets warmed up, rises as hot air does through your living space and now through your attic and that dynamic creates a negative pressure feature in your house, so it actually like exacerbates all your living space air leaks by having this flow go through your house, creating that negative pressure space there.
It can make your windows feel much more drafty than they are, so by doing this like measure that you know is really a pretty low cost measure and is 100 percent subsidized by the program of sealing off the attic and basement. It can really make your windows feel a lot more comfortable and that is that that's like one of the one of the reasons they want to start with this sort of whole building approach might not be the answer that you want to hear and in terms of getting your windows replaced. On windows, I will say that it's often there's like either a very low or negative ROI on doing replacement windows as a strictly energy-saving measure, but the caveat there also is you are replacing your windows, the additional incremental money that you spend to get efficient windows has a very high ROI on both cost savings and energy savings so that's the just the caveat there, and yes but just generally as a standalone measure energy saving measure there's usually not a cost saving ROI.
James, if you have additional low-income window information, feel free to chime in, but I think it's similar with the low income program. They don't focus on that measure, but there are in some cases if they're single pane really old windows, there's the program will cover them.
James: Yes, you covered it.
Gabe: All right, great. Okay, all right.
Doug: I never thought about—
Gabe: Go ahead.
Doug: Go ahead, Gabe.
Gabe: I was going to say there's another question the chat, but if you want to wrap up that one go for it.
Doug: Yes, let me just let me wrap up VJ’s questions. I was going to say I never thought about the chimney effect making windows more drafty. I will say two things about windows for attendees here. First of all, probably if they're really old windows, you probably want to be removing or replacing those as part of a licensed deleading process. So just make sure you understand if your windows actually are lead to get your inspection and do that by the book, so you get a lead cert for the unit.
The second cent, first of the two cents being second one here if you are going to buy windows make sure that you just don't take whatever is on the Home Depot shelves. They sell a lot of stuff that's not north northern climate rated. Not to disparage Home Depot or Lowe's, but you can easily buy windows that aren't good for New England, so just make sure you understand what you're getting.
All right, Gabe you see the question in the chat about fuel or energy assistance? Go ahead.
Gabe: Okay, and I just wanted to answer this question about the heat loan for windows. The last time I checked and I will double check I would want to double check this is again you could access the heat loan, which is the zero percent interest financing for windows only if you were placing single pane windows and that information might be old, so it's either not at all on the zero percent financing or only if you're replacing single pane windows. So again, I don't want to overpromise the program but it's possible if you have really old single-pane windows that you would be able to use the zero percent financing aspect of the program to replace them.
So the other question is fuel assistance, so yes we do support, we do help connect folks to their local CAP agency to access fuel assistance. Those cap agencies are typically sometimes backed up in terms of capacity but have all the right resources like they've got people that speak languages other than English. They're really focused like that's their job so we would probably start by handing them off to the local CAP agency to explaining the benefits, getting them excited about it and getting them connected with the people that can actually enroll them.
We have helped people if they don't succeed on their first attempt or feel like they didn't hear back, or didn't get what they needed or you know had questions we can definitely support people, and yes I think that's like when we're meeting and someone who we think is income eligible, we're usually talking about non-efficiency related things first with them, so making sure they're on the reduced electric rate, making sure that they're on fuel assistance, making sure that they're not on a third-party energy supply contract that's costing them too much money, helping connect them to the National Grid and Eversource’s their rear edge program so they can pay down balances.
We're going to make sure that they're in a good they're getting the benefits that they need and don't have anything harmful happening on their bill and then we'll recommend that they go through the weatherization assistance program or look at some of the low-income community solar options that we have that just help people save money and are have positive environmental impacts as well. I believe the CAP agencies do the same thing. They want people to get on their benefits right away, get the payments happening on their behalf, and then they'll connect them to the appliance replacement and weatherization assistance programs.
Doug: All right.
Gabe: All right, and Ken has confirmed my heat loan window answer so thank you, Ken, for jumping in there. Ken, we haven't invited you to talk yet, but if you want to chime in. Ken works for clear result, does the market rate multifamily program, so James has been talking about both the low income, one-to four-unit and the LEAN program, which is what ABCD does, but Ken chat if you feel like you have anything to add about the five-plus unit building that we didn't cover uh let us know and we can get you queued up to speak as well.
Ken: No, it sounds like you you've got things pretty well explained there. I was just pointing out that the heat loan is available for one- to four-unit buildings exclusively, but specialized incentives on the market rate side are available for five plus unit buildings, and it's done very much on a unit not a building by building basis, so you're going to find out that you know one building may have a great opportunity for a heating system whereas another may not. You know it's all going to be based on the savings, so if we can get you really good savings you're going to get a really big incentive to go ahead and try to get that work completed, that upgrade completed.
Gabe: All right [crosstalk 0:50:41].
Doug: Go ahead, Gabe.
Gabe: I was just going to offer James and Ken, if you want to on the DIY pathway, if people just wanted to go directly to market rate multifamily or LEAN, if you could put those web URLs in the chat since I neglected to like put a slide in about the DIY pathway, I think that would be beneficial. We'll also work with Doug to get that information out there, but again we don't want to be uh stand in the way of people that have they've got one building that qualifies for that program getting directly to the source or they've got a portfolio that would qualify for all one program, definitely happy to have them reach out to you directly.
Doug: All right thank. Now, Stan, I know you did chat a question but I’m going to allow you to unmute yourself if you want because I see your hand is raised and I did not notice—
Stan: Okay, yes there was no unmute by yourself. I understand you wanted to keep control.
Stan: I wanted to say this has been fantastic so far. I’ve been trying to get information on more than four units even though mine was a four unit that's been converted to eight, and this has been fantastic so far. On the knob and tube, you know my lawyer told me that it is legal, but of course the answer said you're not allowed to insulate over it.
Another issue I have is one basically one zone for what are now eight apartments in the building, so that thermostat controls all of them so that the less insulated or cooler apartments get it had you know basically get too hot and other ones stay too cold, but the question was about windows. Back when I had Section 8 tenants, majority of the windows are single pane and were put in 1893 and still work but they're actually less drafty than the dual-pane wooden windows that match the historic nature of the house. They were put in I think around 2000 and they're pretty much falling apart and all drafty and I have 1893 windows that are structurally fine. It’s just no insulation and they used to have $70 storm windows but those sort of don't exist anymore.
If these were things that were done by the city, I believe well I actually know it was called the weatherization program at that time and they put some uh insulation in, some in the wrong places, does this relate to that too if the original work was done by the city for low-income tenants?
Gabe: Yes, so the low income, I guess the time between when you can access the low-income program for is pretty broad. I might ask James to jump in and again because I’m not as familiar with LEAN. I know it's like 10 or 15 years of between eligible interventions for a building for the for the low-income one- to four-unit uh building, but now that your building it sounds like it's graduated from the one- to four-unit program to what would be considered the LEAN program the multiunit building—
Stan: Yes, it was a four-unit in 1929. It's been eight since then.
Gabe: Since then, okay so when you had the last intervention it was part of the multifamily building. That was interesting and the idea—
Stan: Yes, and it was actually individual apartments for Section 8 tenants and low-income tenants, and actually I would be a low-income tenant but no work was done in my apartment. Actually all of my tenants for the last 12 years have had considerably higher income than I do, so [laughter].
Gabe: The other thing I’ll queue up for potentially James if you're willing is it does sound like you might because you have that one that the one zone, I know that the LEAN program now is promoting air source heat pumps, which are an electrification technology. You would have to upgrade that knob and tube wiring to upgrade your service probably, but those are like wall-mounted units that could give individual tenants control over the heating and cooling. It would also be a savings problem. There may be some financial savings of on the heating and cooling costs and might be like as one way to kind of disaggregate the comfort to each unit.
I know that the LEAN program is focused on electrification as a strategy so James, I don't know if you have anything else to add about those that list the questions how often you can access the program through LEAN, heat pumps, knob and tube, we talked about I think and window replacement for really, really old windows. I guess if you have any anything to say about that.
James: Yes, so the program has definitely evolved over the last 20 years and even longer where the approach has continued to increase in terms of what measures we offer what the building sciences behind how we're installing work, so the short answer is I think it'd be great to talk to you maybe offline directly about your property to understand what the current situation is too because if it's still eligible through our criteria, we actually we don't have a restriction imposed on our agencies in terms of how many times they visit a home. In terms of what we can provide, there are some timelines but it's pretty specific to the to the house, so I think that'd be a good opportunity for us to connect.
Stan: Okay, and who were you again?
James: James Collins.
Stan: [crosstalk 0:56:52]
James: My email on the chat.
Doug: If you can see the slides on screen, you could use the All In Energy number and that will connect.
James: Yes, okay as well.
Doug: Yes, absolutely.
Stan: All right, thank you.
Doug: [unintelligible 0:57:04] a question from VJ. “How often can you do this?” So he said he has his assessment done three years ago. Can you get another one now?
Gabe: Yes, you are eligible. I believe that eligibility is still every two years. They're thinking about moving it to three years, but it seems like either way you would be eligible. Again on the one- to four-unit building, market rate and as James mentioned if the low income programs will come out to the units, there's no restriction but in terms of like getting measures done, so yes the program has improved a lot in the last several years.
Ithink in the most meaningful way, there used to be like a cap on the amount of not only the ways that we mentioned where it's like the rental properties is 100 percent covered, but there used to be a cap on how much of an incentive you could get on each unit of $2,000 several years ago and now that's like a completely uncapped. If they come out to your three-or four-unit building they find and it's occupied by rental properties market rate, they're going to find all the weatherization they can do and they're going to do all of it at no cost all qualifying measures so that's like a lot of improvements from maybe what you experienced three years ago in terms of the program so we can get that all set up for you as well.
Doug: Absolutely, and as we heard the president announced today the United States is going to be at 50 percent lower emissions below what was it today or 1990 levels something like that over the next nine years, so there's a lot of energy efficiency work that needs to be done and these programs will continue to change and get better I expect.
I’ll open it up to our speakers here. Tatianna, anything to add, any final words of wisdom?
Tatianna: Thank you, Doug. I think everyone has covered everything and questions have been answered. If you do have any other questions, of course you can visit our website or the MassLandlords specific webpage, but you are also welcome to email me or give me a call. I will copy and paste that into the chat as well. Thank you.
Doug: All right, great thank you. Ken, any last words of wisdom to share?
Ken: No, I think everyone's portrayed all the information very well, so I think we're all set here.
Doug: All right, and Gabe, I’ll give you the last words on energy. What should be the key takeaway for people?
Gabe: Right, I would say take advantage of these programs. There's a lot of incentive like the utility programming is going into a new three-year cycle starting in 2022. There are incentives like light bulbs and these 100 percent incentives that are not going to be not necessarily going to be available in the future, so just I’d recommend you explore what's eligible for your building. We are here to help make it easier for you to access those programs so help you learn what you're eligible for and make the process as painless as we can. I just encourage you to explore the programs, spread the word, and yes take advantage of all these programs you pay for every month.
Doug: All right super. Well, thank you Gabe, Tatianna, and Ken, and thanks also to James who's with us earlier.
We'll end there. If you have any follow-up questions, you want to get connected with All In Energy, you want to learn more about any of these programs, you can contact them on the slide there but also remember the easy email address firstname.lastname@example.org, we'll point you in the right direction.
So thank you all very much for your interest and your attendance this afternoon. I will end there take care and stay safe.
Gabe: Thank you so much, everybody.