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Globe Editorial

Why wait? Save energy now

January 18, 2010

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MASSACHUSETTS HOMEOWNERS seeking to reduce their energy bills and cut back on their carbon footprint do not have to wait for the federal government to come up with its proposed “cash for caulkers’’ program. Gas and electric utilities offer a wide range of tips as well as special conservation programs and rebates for energy-saving devices that are funded by the energy conservation fees that are part of every utility bill. You’ve paid for it - so now take advantage of it.

The utilities’ websites are a convenient source for information on rebates for everything from programmable thermostats for heating systems to highly efficient refrigerators, SmartStrip power strips to reduce electronic devices’ electricity consumption, and entirely new heating or hot-water systems. Under the Mass Save program, homeowners can get discounts of 75 percent up to $2,000 on insulation upgrades and air sealing. For those looking ahead to summer, there are rebates for high-efficiency central air-conditioning systems. Low-income customers are often eligible for a free home energy consultation, which could include installation of conservation measures.

The web sites are also replete with practical tips: keep the hot water temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and lower it even more when the house will be unoccupied for any length of time; close window drapes at night, open them in the day to catch the heat of the sun; keep refrigerator freezer compartments as full as possible; defrost frozen food in the refrigerator to help keep it cold.

“Cash for caulkers’’ - a multi-billion-dollar effort to improve insulation and replace energy-wasting appliances - is an excellent proposal by the Obama administration. But homeowners in Massachusetts can pocket their own “savings for the savvy’’ before Washington gets its bill into gear.

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