For Immediate Release - November 09, 2005

State Consumer Affairs Office Launches "Act Now, Save Now" Energy Conservation Campaign

Urges Households to Take Steps Now to Lighten the Load of Winter Heating Costs

Massachusetts Consumer Affairs Director Beth Lindstrom is making a public appeal to the state's households this season to take simple, inexpensive steps to conserve energy and winterize homes to offset this winter's higher heating costs.

"If consumers are serious about making energy efficiency a priority, the savings can really add up. Conserving energy means more dollars in your pocket and less energy demand for the region," said Director Lindstrom.

The office's Act Now, Save Now campaign kicks off this week with Director Lindstrom featured in an interview with boston.com on energy assistance, efficiency and conservation. Lindstrom will be responding to questions from consumers in a live chat from 10:00am to10:45am on Thursday, November 10 th.

A series of three Act Now, Save Now posters is being distributed to the MBTA and other rapid transit systems for display on hundreds of buses and trains throughout the state. The Consumer Affairs office is also getting the conservation message out to cities and towns with the distribution of Act Now, Save Now posters to city and town halls, libraries and senior centers.

"We showed the potential real dollar savings for some of the most basic conservation steps, such as caulking windows and doors, installing programmable thermostats and switching to Energy Star® light bulbs. Just taking those steps alone could save a few hundred dollars," added Lindstrom.

The following conservation actions and potential seasonal savings are estimates from the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources for the heating season (November 1-April 15).

ACTION:SAVINGS:
Insulate heating ducts or heating pipe$175.00
Weatherstrip or caulk windows and doors$128.00
Lower hot water temperature to 120 degrees, install low-flow showerhead programmable thermostat and lower temperature overnight$170.00
Replace five (5) incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star fluorescent light bulbs$100.00

The Office of Consumer Affairs' Act Now, Save Now campaign directs consumers to www.winterheating.com to access a wide variety of energy efficiency, conservation and assistance information and programs.

"We want everyone that is eligible for fuel or utility assistance to get that relief this winter. These posters are a reminder to folks that help is out there and they should begin learning more about it at winterheating.com," added Director Lindstrom.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides income-qualified homeowners and renters with assistance in paying winter heating bills. Benefits are paid directly to energy suppliers based on household income and size. LIHEAP funding assisted almost 135-thousand Massachusetts households in Fiscal Year 2005.

The Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program (HEARTWAP) provides emergency primary heating system repair and replacement services to income-qualified households. The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) helps income-qualified households reduce their heating bills by providing home energy efficiency services. Renters with landlord approval are also eligible for these programs. More than 8,800 Massachusetts households benefited from these programs in fiscal year 2005.

Gas & Electric Discount Rates: Gas & electric utilities offer a discounted distribution rate to income-qualified customers, providing approximately 10% to 20% savings on monthly utility bills. It's estimated that an additional 24,000 households will receive discounted rates this winter through the state's automatic enrollment program, providing over $3 million in total savings this season.

Energy Efficiency Programs: MassSave offers rebates and incentives for gas and electric utility customers who implement energy efficiency measures such as insulating attics and walls and upgrading heating systems.