Needham resident, inspired by Green Needham program on the Needham Channel, sets out to learn more, makes energy-saving changes to her home.

When Joanne Kneeland happened upon Green Needham Chairman Michael Greis talking about ways to save energy on the Needham Channel, she kept watching. The program sought to educate viewers about energy savings, rebates, and programs such as the HEAT Loan Program, which gives consumers a 0% loan to assist in the installation of qualified energy efficient home improvements. “That really piqued my interest,” Kneeland explained. “I found the show fascinating.”

In the past, Kneeland had struggled with a house that was cold and drafty in the winter. The program she saw on TV renewed her interest in fixing her home’s insulation problem – and, she admitted, “the rebates being offered were an additional enticement!” Inspired by the program, Kneeland contacted NSTAR to learn more. Like many, Kneeland’s experience with environmental home improvements was limited. While she had previously made some efforts to better insulate her home – and thereby reduce her home energy consumption – her attempts had yet to yield any dramatic results. “For years I have been caulking my windows, my doors. NSTAR GAS had a program a number of years ago whereby someone came out and insulated around my doors. I took advatage of that. However, none of these made a measurable difference,” Kneeland explained. But what she saw and heard struck her as different – and worth pursuing.  She realized she might finally be able to repair her home heating issues and significantly reduce her home energy consumption at the same time.

After contacting NSTAR, which sent an auditor to Kneeland’s home to explain the services available, she decided to make some large-scale changes to her home. She obtained the interest-free HEAT Loan, something that enabled her to approach her new home renovations with less worry about cost, and more focus on future benefits. The list of home improvements soon included new attic and exterior wall insulation, a brand new gas boiler and water heater, and an energy-efficient refrigerator and dishwasher.

Now that the work is done, Kneeland notices a warmer house, lower bills, and a more positive impact on the environment. “The changes in my home were quite dramatic. The very day the walls were insulated, I could feel the difference in the house!” Kneeland said. “I am also very happy to know that my appliances, especially the refrigerator, are using so much less energy.” In addition, she is happy to have made changes that will continue to benefit her in the future.  “I am a senior citizen, and I am comforted to know that my gas and electric bills will be lower in the future – when I retire that could be a big factor in my staying in my home, which is what I plan to do,” she explained.

While Kneeland did not directly participate in Green Needham’s 10% Challenge, her successful efforts to reduce her home energy consumption, motivated by Green Needham’s television outreach program, are an example of the lasting and fulfilling benefits of building a greener home. Kneeland recommends the HEAT Loan program to others, and encourages the community as a whole to begin thinking of their homes as starting-points for a greener town. “My overall experience has been extremely positive,” she shared. “The changes are very noticeable – I didn’t expect the difference to be so dramatic. I believe we really need to cut back our energy consumption, and we can start at home. The interest-free loan and rebates offered by the Commonwealth make the changes very affordable, so I don’t see any reason not to utilize the energy-savings programs offered, and the positive effects make it well worthwhile.”

Green Needham’s 10% Challenge is an ongoing project that began in January 2009 – and over 450 households had taken the challenge to reduce their home energy consumption by 10% by the end of our spring campaign that June. As part of our 2010 campaign to reach 1,000 households, those who have successfully undertaken Green Needham’s challenge to cut their energy consumption have agreed to share their stories with us.

Part 2: 10% Challenge Success Stories
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