Big thanks to Brian Hodgson - Newton resident & Green Newton board member - for sharing this story.
With all of the crazy weather and news of climate change, a lot of people are looking at how they can make an impact. Ensuring our homes have less of a carbon footprint is one of the biggest actions we can take – namely better insulation, using heat pumps, and installing solar panels on the roof. I am in the middle of a project to install geothermal heat pumps in my home, in part because I care deeply about doing something about climate change. (I’ll share some more information on that project in another article.)
I live in a neighborhood of old Victorian homes in Newton, and these older homes certainly present challenges to retrofitting with new technologies. For example, installing air source heat pumps with ducting may require opening up walls, mending old lathe and plaster walls, and pulling out the original heating system with their steam or hot water radiators. However, when I took a walk down my street a couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a number of my neighbors had recently installed heat pumps. I was curious as to their motivation: was it driven by a desire to be more climate friendly or were there more practical drivers? To find out, I visited two of my neighbors a couple of weeks ago to ask why.
Tanya and David
For my neighbors Tanya and David, the key driver was comfort in the home and reducing their electric bills. They had lived without central air conditioning for a number of years, but last summer it was almost intolerably hot in their house. The in-window air conditioners they had been using were noisy and the electricity costs were high. When they learned about the incentives from Mass Save, which can be up to $15,000 to put in heat pumps, they realized it would be a fantastic investment– and it would also improve the comfort of their home. Since air source heat pumps work to both heat and cool a home, they would not need a separate air conditioning system. As part of the incentive process, they were required to get a home energy audit and subsequently had to beef up their home’s insulation levels. Though the base estimated cost of insulation was $8000, over $7000 of that was covered by incentives, and their out of pocket cost was reduced to about $1000.
Susan and Michael
The second set of neighbors I visited, Susan and Michael, outlined that they had bought the house a couple of years ago and were looking at a number of ways they could make it more energy efficient. While they wanted to make their house less dependent on fossil fuels, attractive financial incentives and comfort in their home were also key drivers in their decision to install a heat pump. As part of their overall evaluation, they looked at a number of options, including upgrading the windows, adding solar, and installing heat pumps. Upgrading the windows turned out to be quite expensive, especially if they wanted to keep the character of the Victorian home, making them hesitate. At the same time, the old air conditioning system they had inherited was on its last legs and would require a large investment for a new one. Thinking ahead to the future, it made more sense to replace it with a heat pump system that could give them both heating and cooling instead of installing another air conditioning system. This reasoning, plus the great financial incentives, made installing a heat pump a great first step in their overall energy renovation plan.
Comfort and Saving Money are Key Motivators
The $15,000 rebate offered by Mass Save, along with an interest free loan, were critical in getting both families over the hump. Tanya said, “With the interest free loan– we pay $200 a month–it’s almost free money.” In addition, they will also continue to benefit from lower heating and cooling costs through the life of the system.
So, while we all have a desire to make an impact on climate change and reduce our carbon footprint, the more practical needs of comfort and saving money are often the reasons why people make the decision to change to heat pumps. Either way, it’s a win-win for everyone.
If you are interested in learning more about getting a heat pump for your home click here. Not sure where to start? Contact a no cost Wellesley Energy Coach today.
Wellesley’s Climate Action Committee (CAC, Committee) seeks a new member to be appointed by the Select Board for a term spanning July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2027. Applicants should email a paragraph describing their interest and background to Sustainability Director Marybeth Martello at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, March 15. The CAC will accept applications from Thursday, February 15 to Friday, March 15.
Candidates should be committed to the CAC’s mission of reducing town-wide greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Responsibilities include attending CAC meetings one to two times per month (currently scheduled from 9:00-10:00 a.m. on Fridays), taking an active role in CAC projects, and eventually coordinating one or more initiatives related to Wellesley’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). Projects often involve engagement with Town departments and boards, grassroots and non-profit groups, nearby communities, regional associations, and state and federal agencies. Candidates should possess:
• A strong interest in climate action;
• Excellent organizational and leadership skills;
• Experience with initiating and leading projects; and
• The ability to collaborate with Town departments, boards, and other stakeholders.
Background Information for 2024 CAC Member Position Description
The Climate Action Committee (CAC) consists of four Select Board-appointed members, plus one representative from each of the following: Select Board, School Committee, and Wellesley Municipal Light Plant (WMLP). In accordance with the bylaw establishing the CAC, the Select Board appoints the four members from residents active in the Town’s volunteer sustainable energy initiatives or others who bring relevant expertise, such as knowledge about climate action, sustainability, clean energy, marketing, or community engagement.
In 2021- 2, the Committee led development of a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for achieving townwide greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) reduction goals established by Town Meeting. The CAC supports CAP implementation through work with Town departments, community organizations, residents, the commercial sector, and colleges to reduce emissions from municipal, residential, commercial, and institutional sectors and to support climate action related to governance, energy, buildings, mobility, natural resources, and waste.
The CAC (formerly the Sustainable Energy Committee) was established in 2010 and has led or contributed to many successful initiatives, including Wellesley’s:
• Climate Action Plan, engaging over 70 stakeholders across six working groups.
• Municipal Sustainable Building Guidelines, garnering support from seven building proponent boards and leading to development of two new net zero ready elementary schools, an all-electric Town Hall, and plans for an all-electric Warren Building renovation.
• Building Energy Roundtable engaging Wellesley’s large commercial property owners and encouraging building decarbonization.
• Gas Transitions Working Group – working to identify and track methane leaks (particularly those with the highest level of methane emissions) and advocating for repair at the regional and state levels.
• Green Community designation, earning over $475,000 in grant funds to support municipal energy conservation measures.
• Three popular Electric Vehicle Showcase and Test Drive Events.
• Multiple solar installations including at 70 households and three houses of faith.
• Progress on energy efficiency via a Power to Save campaign, workshops at the Council on Aging, and decarbonization audits.
• WasteWise – a collaboration of the Natural Resources Commission, Department of Public Works (DPW) and CAC to identify and capitalize on win-win opportunities associated with sustainable materials management.
• Residential food waste drop-off program at the RDF and school food waste diversion and food rescue.
• First municipal EV Charging Station
• Town-wide Mobility Committee and Electric Vehicle Working Group.
• Green Collaborative to educate and coordinate grass roots groups, individuals, and municipal departments on sustainability issues.
• Annual Monitoring and reporting of townwide GHG Emissions and efforts to reduce emissions.
Get your hands in the dirt and experience the joy of growing your own vegetables with gardening classes!
Needham Community Garden is hosting gardening classes for beginners, intermediate gardeners as well as a virtual class.
Registration is now open!
Thanks to Green Newton for this valuable tip!
Vacation mode is a setting on your water heater that allows you to run at lower temperature than normal, saving energy and money. Typically, manufacturers set vacation mode to around 50°F, well below the temperature you need to for a shower, but warm enough to prevent freezing while you’re away.
If you are going away for more than a few days, use the vacation mode setting, or if you have a digital readout, turn it down to 50°F. DON’T shut off the water heater entirely, to avoid potential freeze-ups or difficulties in restarting the heater. And when you return from vacation, don’t forget to turn the temperature back up at least one hour before you plan to shower. The temperature should normally be set to between 120° and 125°F, which usually corresponds to the “A” setting if your water heater control is marked as A, B, C, and VAC.
At our “Conversation With The Candidates” event last week, we heard from candidates in the contested races, and mingled with many others. If you missed it, you can watch it here. In addition, we asked ALL candidates questions that would enable the public to know where our Town representatives and office holders stand on sustainability issues. All but 2 responded and you can read their responses here. We sincerely thank all of them for running for office in Wellesley and are grateful to those serving our beautiful Town,
'Tis the season.
The Friends of Wellesley Free Libraries upcoming book donation days is this Sunday and Monday.
Please consider donating gently used books to the Wellesley Free Library in the Wakelin Room this Sunday, February 11th - 1-4pm and/or Monday, February 12th - 9-11am.
Climate Coalition of Wellesley (formerly Fridays for Future Wellesley) is having it's 4-year anniversary — it's 209th consecutive Friday demonstration —THIS FRIDAY, February 2nd. Join in at 3pm at Town Hall. Bring friends and family, your own sign, or use one of theirs. Residents of all ages welcome!
Thanks to Green Newton for sharing this!
Plant-based food blogger Marla Felcher has created The 14-Day Greener Plate Challenge, a free, low-lift, online campaign to help us along a sustainable eating journey. From February 9-23, the campaign will educate participants in a fun, engaging way, about the environmental impact of what we eat. There’s a bit of health-related information too, because what’s good for our bodies is good for the planet.
How will The 14-Day Greener Plate Challenge work?
Every day for two weeks, participants will get one email with three “challenges.” Participants are asked do at least one of the three; e.g., watch a short 3-5 minute video, order a plant-based meal at a restaurant, or take a quiz that reveals their personal carbon “food print.” The campaign will teach easy food swaps, provide useful Apps, and include simple, scrumptious plant-based recipes. And there’s more! On the evening of February 15, chef Diana Goldman will teach a live Zoom cooking class.
Who Will Benefit from The 14-Day Greener Plate Challenge?
Anyone who eats and cares about climate change and health: omnivores, flexitarians, pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans, and anyone in between.
When? February 9-23, 2024.
PRICE? It’s free. Marla and chef Diana Goldman have created this campaign to help people learn the relationship between what’s on their plate and the health of our planet.
Sign Up & More Info? Join the 150+ like-minded eaters who have already committed to learn how to “eat their values.”
Join the Greener Plate Challenge
Some of the highlights of the challenge are:
✅ For 14 days you will receive Daily Cooking + Coaching emails.
✅ You will receive resources galore including fabulous recipes, grocery shopping guides, starter packs, cooking tips, nutrition advice and guidance on how to eat more sustainably.
✅ The challenge is a fun way to connect with friends, create a team, and win a $250 restaurant gift certificate or $500 donation to their favorite environmental NGO. You’ll receive details when you sign up for the program.
✅ It’s for everyone, whether an omnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, reducetarian, or something in between.
In addition, Chef Diana Goldman of Beantown Kitchen will be leading a cooking class on Thursday, February 15 at 5:30pm. During the class, she’ll be making these two planet-friendly dishes: Black Bean Tortillas with Cabbage Slaw & Lime Crema and Chocolate Mousse.
Both the Greener Plate Challenge and Diana’s Zoom cooking class will be engaging ways to understand how each of us has the ability to decrease our carbon “food print,” easily and deliciously.
News from Wellesley's Natural Resources Commission (NRC)
While warm weather might seem very far away, now is the time to sign up with a lawn care service for spring. Make 2024 the year you commit to greener lawn care practices. Finding the right provider can be challenging as the word organic is not regulated for lawn care professionals. To be sure you are getting a true organic lawn care professional NOFA has created an accreditation program. NOFA Organic Lawn Care Program works to foster professional competency in the area of organic landscaping and protect the public interest in responsible use of land care products and land resources. Click here to search a list of accredited organic lawn care professionals.
Another way you can green your lawn care practices is to conserve water. Are you interested in saving money on your water bill? Do you care about conserving water use? The NRC is looking to assess resident interest in holding a community rain barrel purchase program. The program would take place in early March or April with rain barrels delivered in late April or May. Email the NRC here to be put on a list for the Wellesley Community Rain Barrel Program. This program provides residents the opportunity to purchase a rain barrel at a reduced cost. More information will be provided to those who sign up.
Wellesley Energy Coaching program offers valuable, no-cost advice from a volunteer expert trained in clean energy technologies. Take the first step now: complete this brief questionnaire. and an energy coach will reach out within 48 hours to schedule a personalized consultation. Our coaches empower you to explore, plan, and implement home weatherization, efficient air-source heat pumps, solar power, electric vehicles, and more.
Whether you want to save money, improve your home’s energy efficiency, or take advantage of expert advice, we are here to assist you. Complete the questionnaire now and we will contact you within 48 hours. Please send any questions to EnergyCoach@wellesleyma.gov.
This program is sponsored by Wellesley Municipal Light Plant, Wellesley Climate Action Committee, and Sustainable Wellesley.