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More residents are taking out Mass Save zero-percent heat loans

The recent heat wave did not slow down applications for the Mass Save zero-percent heat loan program that helps defray costs for local home owners looking to shrink their carbon footprints, said Conservation Services Group, a national energy services company headquartered in Westborough.

In May, Massachusetts residents took out about $3.6 million worth of Mass Save loans, up from $1.24 million for the same month a year ago, Conservation Services Group said. Among the reasons for the increase: Word of mouth has increased awareness of the program along with ongoing marketing efforts for Mass Save.

The Mass Save loan program was launched in 2006 by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources as a way to help overcome the cost barrier to adopting energy saving upgrades. The loans are designed to help Massachusetts residents pay for energy efficiency upgrades to their homes. Residents can apply for these loans through the utilities that provide them with gas and electricity.

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(Conservation Services Group counts NStar and National Grid as among the utility companies that make up its clients. Conservation Services Group implements the Mass Save program for National Grid and NStar.)

In some cases, National Grid or NStar will include a mention of conservation rebate measures in the monthly bills it sends out to residents. If a resident expresses interest, he or she can line up a home energy audit. The audit is conducted by Conservation Services Group, which then makes recommendations and helps the resident apply for a loan with a regional bank or credit union that is a participant in the heat-loan program.

Improvements covered by the loans include upgrades to a home’s insulation, heating system, and air conditioning system.

In a statement, Conservation Services Group chief executive Stephen Cowell said: “The Mass Save Heat loan initiative is one of the most successful programs of its kind. In fact, 2011 may have been the single largest year for residential energy efficiency financing in the nation – ever. And we’re well on our way to another successful year.’’

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