KLA Perspectives

How I Utilized Home Energy Efficiency Upgrades – as a Renter.

Posted byDanielle Civitillo on Feb 27, 2024 2:42:40 PM

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Home electrification and energy efficiency should always be considered top priority climate action strategies given their high-impact potential. The availability of incentives and rebate programs in this space are important – but residents actually utilizing those incentives is critical to match the urgency of the climate crisis. 

When creating and implementing climate action plans, we often see these issues from a 10,000-foot level, but it’s important to know how these rebate systems play out on the ground in order to address barriers that residents may face in accessing the benefits that electrification and efficiency can bring. 

This month’s blog is guest written by KLA’s Technology Director, Danielle Civitillo, who utilized local incentive programs to assess her home’s energy efficiency and install energy-efficient insulation as a renter in Massachusetts.

Living in a home built in the late 1800s has its charms but it also has its inefficiencies. It doesn’t take long to notice that the windows are old – like, probably original to the house! The building has been settling for over 100 years, and doors don’t line up the way they used to, which creates gaps and drafts. Plus, when I moved in, there was no insulation. As a renter, it seemed like my options might be limited. But with the Mass Save program, I was able to advocate for myself and get upgrades done to make my living space more comfortable, efficient, and affordable.  

There are some incentives that are specific to renters, but there are also Home Energy Assessments for Landlords that really open up the efficiency opportunities. I’m very lucky that my landlord was immediately on board to make the property more efficient. We scheduled an assessment for the two units in the building. The energy assessment contractors confirmed that we had no insulation at all. The good news? The Mass Save program covers the cost of the insulation for rental properties! 

Does your landlord need convincing? Not all property owners understand the importance of upgrading homes to be more energy efficient, but there are resources available to help you talk to your landlord about upgrades like insulation, electrification, and more. Here are a few resources we find helpful: 

Insulation on attic doorBecause of the age of the home, we needed to get an electrician in to make sure that all the knob-and-tube wiring was removed, as it poses a serious flammable hazard with the insulation. The Mass Save program also allows up to $5,000 per unit to address barriers associated with insulation and air sealing upgrades. This means that most of the cost to rewire the building was covered by the program and thus the green light for insulation.

I’m writing this two months after installation, and I can say that I have noticed a bit of a difference! Usually, I need to have my space heater on while I’m working to be comfortable. Since getting my place insulated, I have only had to put it on when it’s extra cold outside thanks to the drafty windows (more on that later!). I also have two gas bills to compare with the previous year’s usage for a more quantifiable update. 

My daily usage in both December and January went down about 1.5 therms per day or about a 15% reduction. And I saved about $355 between the two months.  





January Daily Usage (therms) 




January Charges 




December Daily Usage (therms) 




December Charges 





While these are great savings, I still know we can do better. That’s why our next step is to deal with the very old, very draft windows. Mass Save has a 0% financing HEAT Loan where you can get up to $25,000 toward eligible upgrades to be paid over seven years with 0% interest. Window upgrades are included in the loan program. 

Open communication with your landlord is key when trying to make your home more efficient. By sending them the Mass Save resources for landlords, you can help get the conversation going. It costs them almost nothing to get the building insulated and the assessment opens them up to so many other incentives offered by the program.  In all, this experience taught me that, when created inclusively, energy efficiency and electrification programs can reach everyone – not just individuals who own their homes.  

Still, these upgrades have (and will continue to) require quite a bit of time and effort – not to mention coordination with my landlord. Making home improvement programs truly accessible for renters requires attention to the time-related and financial barriers these upgrades can bring. When these concerns are addressed, it becomes easier to access the financial, health, safety, and sustainability benefits that energy efficiency and electrification bring to residents, property owners, and the community as a whole. 


Resources for home energy/efficiency upgrades for renters: 

Learn about barriers for renters seeking sustainable home upgrades: 

Topics: community, energy efficiency, MA, climate resiliency