The Energy Consumer's Bulletin- a New England energy news blog

The Texas power problem – our perspective

Posted by Larry Chretien on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 @ 11:35 AM

Our hearts go out to Texans. The cold, snow, ice, power outages, and water shutoffs have gone way past inconvenient for people there. It’s caused death and misery.  Although we’re not experts on the Texas grid system as much as we are in New England, we’ve noticed a lot of confusion and deliberate misinformation surrounding the blackouts

The confusion about the power system is understandable; it's complicated and largely operates behind-the-scenes. It’s only until there’s a major crisis that we take a look behind the curtain. Unfortunately, the grid’s complexity makes it a ripe opportunity for the financially and politically motivated to spread “alternative facts.”  

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Tags: Renewable energy, Energy policy & advocacy, Home heating

What should we do about gas heat? A problem from Newport to Northampton

Posted by Kai Salem on Friday, November 06, 2020 @ 04:25 PM

Over the past week, many of us here in New England might have turned on our heat as temperatures dipped to near freezing for the first time this fall. For the slight majority of us in Rhode Island and Massachusetts who heat our homes with natural gas, we’re relying on a centrally distributed fossil fuel to keep our homes and businesses warm in winter. On the one hand, natural gas is cheap, and a growing economy calls for more customers to hook up to the pipeline. On the other, we are way over our budget for greenhouse gases. Natural gas releases carbon when burned and causes an even bigger problem when leaked in the form of methane. We have a conundrum on our hands: how do we urgently reduce emissions from our buildings when most of us rely on the natural gas system to supply needed warmth during the winter?

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Tags: Energy policy & advocacy, Home heating

We Need a Plan for Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps

Posted by Larry Chretien and Eugenia Gibbons on Monday, April 24, 2017 @ 07:12 PM

Our organization works to provide consumers with good options for their homes and we are also at the table with policymakers to encourage policies that make good economic and environmental sense. With this blog, we want to share our experience with heat pumps, particularly ductless mini-splits, and perhaps float a couple of trial balloons.

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Tags: Energy policy & advocacy, Home heating

Three Steps to a Better Heating System

Posted by Loie Hayes on Saturday, April 01, 2017 @ 08:03 AM

Now that spring is here, we have plenty of time to prepare for next heating season. Heating system upgrades are a great way to help you save energy and money. Though upgrading may seem like an intimidating project, you can break it down into manageable steps.

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Tags: Energy efficiency, Home heating

Getting the Sulfur Out of Heating Oil – A Win-Win for Consumers and the Environment

Posted by Phil Lindsey & Loie Hayes on Friday, January 20, 2017 @ 06:40 PM

For decades, the federal Clean Air Act has caused sulfur levels in electricity-generating gasoline and oil to fall dramatically. The results have been enormous. According to one study, the benefits of EPA regulations on sulfur (and nitrogen) have exceeded costs by 30 to 1. Most of these benefits have to do with public health.

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Tags: Home heating, Climate change

Mid-Winter Heating Oil Price Update

Posted by Phil Lindsay on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 @ 05:44 PM

After last winter’s relative warmth and Mass Energy/PP&L prices mostly under $2 per gallon, this year we’re experiencing colder weather and somewhat higher prices. Both the colder weather and today’s prices are still lower than ‘normal’ by historical standards. Here’s our take on what we see happening in the oil markets.

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Tags: Home heating, Our programs

Why You Can Start Heating with Biodiesel Today

Posted by Sophia Wright on Saturday, December 17, 2016 @ 07:12 AM

We’ve come a long way in understanding the best practices for using biodiesel in our home heating system. Unlike biodiesel used in cars, home biodiesel does not require any do-it-yourself retrofitting for safe use. By reading this blog we hope you can get a better understanding of the benefits of biodiesel and the steps you can take to begin using bio-heat in your home heating oil system!

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Tags: Home heating, Our programs

3 Ways to Prepare for this Heating Oil Season

Posted by Sophia Wright on Friday, August 12, 2016 @ 12:25 PM

As non-profit consumer advocacy organizations that have been running a Discount Heating Oil Service for 34 years, Mass Energy and People’s Power & Light want our members to save money. Savings that could be put towards making your home more energy efficient and reducing its carbon footprint. Here are some steps you can take to maintain your heating system’s efficiency, reduce your home’s energy consumption, and spread out your oil bills into predictable monthly payments.

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Tags: Energy efficiency, Home heating

Electric vehicles and heat pumps are key to achieving significant emissions reductions

Posted by Patrick Knight of Synapse Energy Economics on Sunday, April 17, 2016 @ 03:28 PM

Preface from Larry Chretien, Executive Director:

Readers of this blog should be aware that we are enthusiastic supporters of electric vehicles and air-source heat pumps. Costs of these products have come down in recent years while quality has gone up. We see them as economically sensible ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to the point that we see them as essential parts of any climate action plan. That would mean for a plan for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, any other state, your city or town, and your family. In our work, we are lucky to come in contact with experts who have figured all this out and who are kind enough to explain their findings to the rest of us. So please enjoy this blog from our guest, Patrick Knight of Synapse Energy Economics.

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Tags: Electric vehicles/Transportation, Home heating, Climate change

Save Energy: Update Your Heating Equipment

Posted by Loie Hayes and Anna Vanderspek on Sunday, March 27, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

If your heating system leaves your home too cold or burns too much fuel, it might be time to look into an upgrade.  Consumers in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island should pay close attention to incentives being offered by utilities.  Gas and oil prices have been low the last couple of years, which makes now a good time to invest some of your fuel savings into making your home more efficient.  The payoff will be big when fuel prices rebound (not if, when). Read on to learn more about the incentives and rebates in your state.

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Tags: Energy efficiency, Home heating