PEPPERELL -- There was good news for property owners in town when it was learned that with modest expense, they could save thousands of dollars in upgrading their homes to become more energy efficient.
The information came on July 25 at the town's senior center, when Brenda Pike, a representative of National Grid, briefed residents on the company's new Efficient Neighborhoods energy-savings program.
According to Pike, the program was launched last year and with some of the results still out, has continued on a limited basis with only three communities chosen for participation in 2014: Brockton, Malden and Pepperell.
Pike said that eligible communities were chosen on the basis of income, with Pepperell's residential makeup falling within the 61-100 percent range of the state average, it became an attractive contender.
"People in these ranges are often more interested in making improvements to their homes," said Pike.
More specifically, should homeowners decide to accept the whole package of incentives offered by National Grid's program, they could save as much as $32,700 in return for a personal investment of $10,605, with matching incentives by the company of $22,095.
Among the incentives where homeowners could save money are getting a $200 rebate on the purchase of a new energy efficient refrigerator, rebates of up to $4,000 to replace aging or inefficient heating and cooling equipment, and up to 90 percent off or $3,000 toward insulation improvements.
Also being offered are zero-interest loans for other eligible improvements and special incentives for landlords seeking to better multiple-housing units.
In addition, confirmed Pike, simply for signing up for a free, no-cost energy assessment of their home, participating persons would receive free LED light bulbs, low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, air sealing, smart strip surge protectors and programmable thermostats.
Pike said National Grid is conducting the program both as part of a state requirement and to "make the customers happy."
A point she insisted upon when asked by one of the two dozen residents if the company would just increase its rates once customers began to cut their energy costs "the way Lowell Gas did years ago."
Pike said that would not happen.
Other concerns raised by residents included being able to hire their own contractors to make the upgrades, eligibility of replacement of water heaters stored in enclosed areas, landlord participation, how old equipment needs to be to qualify for replacement and how quickly National Grid would do the work after the free assessment.
Pike said depending on the season, work could begin within a few days if the home inspected is deemed eligible. Elements that could cause delay or ineligibility might include the presence of asbestos, bad wiring or drafty windows that would need to be addressed first.
Satisfied with the rates of participation in the pilot program, Pike said that National Grid would definitely push ahead with more communities in the future. And judging from the reaction among those who listened in July 25, there will be a few more from Pepperell.
"I'm definitely interested in saving money, absolutely," remarked resident Mark Husse. "I'm thrilled with the prospects. I'm going home right now to make an appointment."
Participation in National Grid's Efficient Neighborhoods program must be scheduled by Dec. 31, with any improvements to an eligible property completed by March 13, 2015.
For those seeking information about the program or a free energy assessment of their home, call National Grid at 1-855-363-7587 or visit its website at nationalgrid.com.