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Revamped HHI Tool is First Step to a More Energy-Efficient Home

With an eye on making life easier and homes more energy efficient, NHSaves has unveiled a revamped online tool that calculates fuel usage and qualifies residential customers for rebates and incentives through the Audits and Weatherization program.

The improved home heating index tool (HHI), which launched on the NHSaves’ website on June 1, is the first step toward qualifying for a home audit. Using the online tool, customers simply plug in their fuel usage over one year, the square footage of their home, their provider and their zip code. The tool then provides customers with a heating index of their home’s energy usage.

The Audits and Weatherization program is offered by Eversource, Liberty Utilities, New Hampshire Electric Co-Op and Unitil. For customers enrolled into the weatherization program, rebates and incentives are available up to $4,000 on overall improvement costs.

The new tool represents a significant upgrade for customers, who previously had to print out an application and mail it in, along with copies of their fuel-use records, to learn if they qualified for the program. Now, once qualified, they can file the application electronically.

“My gut feeling is that it turned people away,” says Frank Melanson, Supervisor, Energy Efficiency at Eversource. “Now, things are much smoother.”

The HHI tool and weatherization program is a part of The Home Performance with Energy Star program, a comprehensive, whole house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort at home that can save customers on energy costs. The program was recently honored by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) with the Exemplary Program Award as one of the leading energy-efficiency programs in the United States.

“The home heating tool brings people into our retrofit weatherization program, which improves the efficiency of the home by tightening it up, adding insulation and making it more comfortable,” says Matt Minghella, Residential Program Manager at Liberty Utilities.

NHSaves provides utility partner customers with technical assistance that allows them to more accurately project long-term savings with energy efficient projects. Contractors are also provided training that helps them identify energy-efficient opportunities and the best energy improvement measures that can be taken. Finally, the utility partner guides vendors and contractors through the design process with the goal of qualifying for the highest possible savings and rebates.

Natural gas customers of Liberty Utilities and Unitil who do not qualify for the program can still reap benefits through a “visual audit,” as long as they are capable of upgrading at least one home heating zone to a WiFi thermostat. This abridged audit also determines the home’s energy efficiency, and in some cases, can even lead to a homeowner ultimately qualifying for the weatherization program. Regardless, contractors will still install LED light bulbs and pipe insulation, as well as check on the effectiveness of top-level insulation.

Customers enrolled in the weatherization program are provided with a list of recommended qualified contractors who will conduct a comprehensive home energy audit. The audit, a $450 value, is only $100 to customers in the program. For customers who move forward with any suggested recommendations detailed in the proposal, the $100 will be rolled into the cost of the project after all rebates are applied.

The auditor will conduct diagnostic tests throughout the entire home in search of ways to improve energy efficiency and earn rebates and incentives. From the attic to the basement, to the windows, doors, duct work, appliances, lighting, water, heating and cooling systems, the house will be analyzed for opportunities for improvement. In the end, customers can save up to 30 percent on their energy bills.

“Customers who go through this program will see immediate benefits through their utility bills, and through the fact that their house will be more comfortable and quieter, because it’s better insulated,” says Ben Stephenson, Program Coordinator, Customer Energy Solutions for Unitil.

Customers looking to see if they qualify should visit https://nhsaves.com/programs/energy-audits-weatherization/.

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