Want A-HEET to weatherize your home?

Hello there – please read this: Arlington HEET doesn’t do weatherization any more, but we do have a lot of handy instructional pages for some of the most important work you can do yourself. I recommend using either the search feature (below, right) or the “tag cloud” (also below right) if you’re looking for something specific.

Otherwise, scrolling through the blog will bring you to a number of items that are helpful, though most of the newest ones are related to compost.

You can see more about why we’re not doing the work anymore, here.

Thanks, and good luck with all of your projects!

Below is old information. Please see above.

We get lots of inquiries and we try to help as many people as possible. Sometimes that means we get to do the work for them, but sometimes it means directing them to professionals because (in their instance) it will be less expensive, sometimes it means they need to take care of structural issues first, and sometimes it just isn’t a good fit.
Generally though, we do all we can to help the homeowner(s), including walking them through the process of using others to do the work when that’s called for.
REQUIREMENTS:
We’ve got a few requirements of homeowners that want us to weatherize their homes.
  1. The homeowner will pay for all materials, usually less than $500. (Usually significantly less.)
  2. The homeowner must be comfortable with 30-40 volunteers, led by trained leaders, going throughout their home on the day of the project.
  3. The homeowner will provide the volunteers with coffee and munchies in the morning, pizza in the afternoon. (Munchies and pizza are negotiable – coffee is not.)
  4. A-HEET needs access to the entire home, but especially the basement and attic as this is where the most important leaks are typically found.
  5. If the building is a two-family, both families must agree to the project so we can be most effective.
If you, the homeowner(s), are comfortable with the above and ready to move forward then contact A-HEET to schedule a walk-thru.
WHAT IS A WALK-THRU?
Before doing any work we obviously need to see what needs to be done. We (one or two A-HEET leaders) do an initial walk-thru with the homeowner(s) to find leaks, energy saving measures (such as light bulb replacements, faucet aerators, etc.) check for any safety issues and answer in greater detail questions that homeowners may have.
Typically a walk-thru takes about two hours. If we’re ready to move forward, we will return with a blower door to test just how leaky the house is prior to the event itself.
WHAT WE DON’T DO:
A lot of people ask A-HEET to install new windows or add insulation – we don’t do either. We’re a team of volunteers using materials found in most hardware stores. To properly install insulation requires expensive equipment and proper training, as a non-profit we can’t afford either – go with a respected professional. (And make sure you’re getting “dense pack” cellulose – the “pink stuff” is, according to studies, almost impossible to install properly and does not air seal at all.)

8 Responses to Want A-HEET to weatherize your home?

  1. Sarah Boardman says:

    I have a first floor condominium in a three unit building. My unit is cold. Stuffing weather stripping around windows and doors helps reduce drafts some, but I receive notices from National Grid that I use much more energy than comparable homes in this neighborhood (Charlestown). I keep the thermostat at 65 during the day and 58 at night.

    I have had two home energy assessments, neither of which provided much help. I would appreciate your advice and help. If HEET is not available in Charlestown, can you refer me to professionals and tell me what to ask them to do.

    Many thanks,

    Sarah Boardman

  2. Jeremy says:

    Sarah,

    Unfortunately we don’t do work in Charlestown and we don’t really recommend contractors either. If your Mass Save audits were a while ago you might try them again. They’ve dramatically improved in just the last year or so.

    Those notices from National Grid are a great idea but seem to have a flaw somewhere in the system as several people who use significantly less energy have received notices saying they use significantly more. Once functional it will be very useful.

    In your situation, first floor of a three-floor condo, there are a few things to know:
    1. Heat rises – so you’ll almost certainly use more energy than your upstairs neighbors who receive the benefit of your heating.
    2. When you ‘stuff weather stripping around windows’ I’m not entirely certain what you’re doing. If you’re caulking window trim and sealing the windows themselves – perfect. If you’re doing something else, it may or may not be helping. Remember that cloth and even fiberglass insulation do not stop air flow.
    3. The most important places to reduce leaks are the basement and attic due to the “stack effect.” If you haven’t yet, check your basement for leaks. One other great benefit is that by blocking up the holes you reduce or stop animals and insects from getting in too.
    4. Like I said earlier, if you haven’t had a Mass Save audit in a year or so, give it another try.

    Good luck,

    Jeremy

  3. Barbara Patzner says:

    I read the article in the Boston Globe on the thermal images of Arlington homes that was performed by Sagewell recently in conjunction with your organization. Is it to late to be included? I live at (REDACTED), Arlington.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Barbara,

    Arlington HEET isn’t actually running the program – Sagewell is. You can see a bit more on our website about the program.

    In short, you can request your home be part of the program by sending an email with your address to priority@sagewell.com

    Jeremy

  5. Todd S says:

    We recently purchased our first home in Arlington Heights in late Fall. We definitely want to have a Mass Save audit and/or A-HEET weatherization effort at some point. However, is it advisable to wait until we have established baselines of our heating and cooling costs prior to weatherization efforts taking place. Or do you weatherize ASAP!

    Do you go with Mass Save First, then A-HEET? It’s a bit confusing and overwhelming!

    Thanks,

    Todd S

  6. Jeremy says:

    Thanks Todd, it’s a good question.

    It’s important to know where each fits in. MassSave can do many things that Arlington HEET cannot. When they perform their audit they will provide you with free CFL light bulbs, low-flow faucet aerators, a small amount of air sealing work and perhaps more. They will also qualify you for rebates on insulation work, currently 75% up to $2000. Those rebates are also ‘repeatable,’ meaning that you can insulate your walls this year and your attic next year, if the price is too high for you to handle all at once.

    MassSave does that because they are funded in part through all of our utility bills, and you should absolutely take advantage of that – no if, and or but about it.

    Arlington HEET provides air-sealing services at-cost (homeowners pay for the materials.) We don’t do insulation because the equipment and training required is more than we can handle with an all-volunteer group. The best practice for the most efficient home is to:
    1. Seal the home, then
    2. Insulate the home.
    The reason is simple: If you wear a sweater on a cold windy day that’s good, but it won’t stop the wind from blowing through the sweater and cooling you off. If you wear a windbreaker on top of a sweater, you’ll be toasty warm with no cold air pelting you through the sweater – akin to air sealing your home in addition to insulating it.

    So what we advise people is to contact MassSave and get that ball rolling. You can also contact us to see if we can help (we typically reduce air infiltration by about 30% as measured with blower doors.) Even if you don’t want us to do any work in your home, we do what we can to answer people’s questions – so never hesitate to contact us if you have one.

    A long answer to a short question – I hope that was helpful.

    Jeremy

  7. JLynne says:

    Does Mass Save give a price per square foot? I own one unit in a two-family and each owner has had the audit and a completely different set of price quotes. I’ve tried to get a straight answer from Mass Save and got nowhere. Any suggestions for how to proceed?

  8. Jeremy says:

    A price per square foot for what? MassSave doesn’t actually do any efficiency work – only audits. They can tell you approximately how much you’ll save by doing work and they can provide you with a list of approved contractors, but they won’t do the work themselves. I hope that is helpful.

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