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Tracking utility costs. Improving energy use.

Posted by Rona Fischman May 10, 2012 01:50 PM

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Around the end of February, this year, I brought a discussion about propane fuel heating to BREN. The data I was missing was a way to calculate energy costs that accounted for the difference in the severity or mildness of a given winter or summer. I also had a personal agenda for finding a way to track energy costs that calculated for temperature. Last year, I took advantage of the MassSave program for wall insulation and air sealing. Because it was such a mild winter, I wasnít getting any obvious bang for my buck.

I was lucky to find the answer at MIT early last March, at a workshop for landlords. Dan Teague led a workshop where he walked us through the software product developed by Wegowise. It answered a need that I had because the software calculated for degree-day variations.
It took a little fussing around to get both units of my two-family house into the database, but now itís working fine. (They promised me that they are doing an upgrade that will make this easier.) I recommend the software to everyone, not just landlords. It will help you see, over time, how the changes you are making toward efficient energy use are paying off (or not.)

Even if you have a single family home, you can benefit from tracking your energy use. Wegowise goes back one year of your energy bills from NStar or National Grid. It has automatic feed from some water departments. You can manually add your oil or propane bills.

WegoWise was founded at the beginning of 2010 by Boston Community Capital, Ed Connelly of New Ecology, and Barun Singh. They saw the same problem arise again and again in the efforts to create more efficient buildings: itís too complicated and expensive to track and understand building energy use. Recognizing this critical barrier, they founded WegoWise to offer a low-cost and easy to use online tool that could give expert answers to non-experts. WegoWise now has the largest multi-family energy and water database in the country.

WegoWise helps people identify energy efficiency opportunities with minimal building information, at a low cost and without the need for cumbersome data entry. It is also able to easily track and analyze changes in energy and water use after building upgrades have been made. This has helped them achieve their primary objective in creating WegoWise ó to assemble powerful evidence of the financial and environmental benefits of energy efficiency.

This week, I got an email from Wegowise, that had this report of some of their success stories.

In the report, replacing an old boiler with a co-generating boiler (one that produces electricity) lead to significantly lower fuel and electric use (and costs.) For water conservation, finding leaks and replacing toilets, aerators and shower-heads lead to big bang for the buck.

Are you looking toward making your house more energy efficient?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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