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

Why We Need a (Good) Clean Heat Standard – a message for Massachusetts & Rhode Island

Posted by Larry Chretien on Thursday, September 15, 2022 @ 11:43 AM

Energy standards have changed our electricity and auto industries for the better. Now it’s time to bring the same idea to how we heat our buildings.

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Tags: Energy policy & advocacy, Energy efficiency, Home heating

We Like the Massachusetts Climate Bill. The Governor Must Sign It.

Posted by Larry Chretien & Anna Vanderspek on Friday, July 22, 2022 @ 07:00 AM

On Thursday, the Massachusetts House and Senate both passed a major new climate bill, An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind. The legislation now goes to Governor Baker for signature. The bill is basically what we expected: a combination of the House’s emphasis on offshore wind, the Senate’s emphasis on electric transportation, and some new policies in other areas. Overall, we are very pleased with the 96-page bill. Here are our views on some of the key provisions – and what you can do to get this over the finish line. 

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Tags: Renewable energy, Energy policy & advocacy, Massachusetts, Electric vehicles/Transportation, Electricity and the grid, Energy efficiency, Home heating, Climate change

Buildings in the Massachusetts Clean Energy & Climate Plan

Posted by Larry Chretien on Thursday, July 14, 2022 @ 03:33 PM

This blog covers strategies outlined in Massachusetts’ final Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the buildings sector. For more background on the CECP for 2025 and 2030, read this blog.


Residential and commercial heating and cooling contributed 29.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents to Massachusetts’ emissions in 1990, or about 15% of total GHG emissions. The newest draft of the state's Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) now calls for a 49% emission reduction by 2030 relative to 1990 in the heating sector (virtually the same percentage decrease as the economy-wide target of 50%).

For the last several years, we have seen emissions fall significantly from within the electricity sector, while building emission reductions have been more stubborn. Here’s what the CECP says we’re going to do about that, and our take on those strategies.

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Tags: Energy policy & advocacy, Massachusetts, Energy efficiency, Home heating

Finding great Heat Pump installers and advice

Posted by Loie Hayes & Larry Chretien on Friday, June 24, 2022 @ 06:00 AM

Green Energy Consumers has launched a new Heat Pump program designed to connect consumers with trusted expertise. As prices for heating oil and natural gas continue to respond to the worldwide supply shortage, this is a great summer to investigate whether a heat pump would make sense for your home.

If you've wondered how to assess your home's suitability for heat pumps, find installers, or compare their varying bids, we recommend you register for this new program by clicking below. And, of course, read on!

Get help with heat pumps

Find the best contractor for you

Because the heat pump market in Massachusetts and Rhode Island is still relatively young, it’s sometimes hard to know if an installer has enough experience to do a good job. Likewise, heat pump systems can be designed in various ways, and many consumers lack the training to be able to compare designs. Our program makes it easier for energy consumers to find trusted vendors and independent advice. 

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Tags: Energy efficiency, Home heating, Our programs

Heating Oil Consumers Are Facing a Crisis Next Winter

Posted by Loie Hayes & Larry Chretien on Monday, May 23, 2022 @ 08:00 AM

Although Spring is in the air and we have so many current events of great importance, there’s reason to think about how difficult next winter will be for heating oil consumers. For months, we have seen rising energy costs – natural gas, electricity, and gasoline.  But this blog is about the heating oil market as it would affect consumers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the rest of New England.  Consider this to be an open letter to our federal delegations to Congress, Governor Baker, Governor McKee, and state legislators.  Heating oil in New England has been well over $5 per gallon since March, over two dollars higher than last winter. Unless it gets a lot better, the price of heating oil will cause misery for hundreds of thousands of families.

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Tags: Home heating

Put on a Sweater and Unplug the Second Fridge – Energy this Winter is Going to Be Expensive

Posted by Larry Chretien on Monday, October 18, 2021 @ 05:58 PM

Oil and natural gas prices are on the rise globally in a big way and that means electricity and heating fuel rates will go up too.  When you add it all up, this is going to be an expensive winter. 

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Tags: Electricity and the grid, Home heating

Should Massachusetts phase out rebates for new oil- and gas-fired systems for heat and hot water?

Posted by Larry Chretien on Tuesday, July 06, 2021 @ 02:31 PM

Recently I was asked by the Boston Globe to write 350 words on why the Mass Save energy efficiency program should phase out rebates for new oil-fired systems for heat and hot water. Another writer took the opposite view and readers were invited to vote for their preferred argument. The Globe’s request was reasonable and so I wrote my piece, but in this expanded blog, I can better address some important points in the discussion.

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Tags: Energy efficiency, Home heating, Climate change, Phasing out fossil fuels

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