Submitted by haitiandev t3_10ixo1u in massachusetts

Hi All, I am a relatively new homeowner (2 years) and I need advice regarding my high electricity bills. My bills used to come to around $1000 every month, but I did receive a discount from National grid which reduced the price to half. My house is equipped with an oil furnace and a heat pump which heat almost half of the house. The price for the oil is another $1000 for 2 to 3 months. I refilled my tank 2 weeks ago and it cost $963 for 254 gallons.

I am looking for a better way to tackle this issue. I live in Massachusetts and the companies who came to look at my system quoted me around $45000 to $60000 to replace the system with newer energy-efficient heat pumps or ductless systems. I like the experience the ductless system has, but most contractors suggest otherwise, claiming that re-running ducts in my already completed house would be too costly. I also applied for solar energy, but the company I contacted has not been responsive.

I was referred to the Mass Save program. I was not qualified.

Please help me to find advice about mitigating my utility costs and upgrading my heat pumps, insulating my house, or the best course of action I can take.




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josephkambourakis t1_j5h9un6 wrote

Do you have insulation? $1000 seems high w/out the oil. You can always keep the temperature lower and wear layers.


ruibingw t1_j5hli76 wrote

Yeah I think you may want to get an insulation quote even without the mass save discount since it is costing you thousands per winter to heat your house.


haitiandev OP t1_j5hmknm wrote

I do have insulation. We try to keep the temp as low as we can but I have a small kid in the house who does not do well with cold temp.


tehsecretgoldfish t1_j5hoye7 wrote

what kind of windows? those are always the weak point for air infiltration. if you aren’t doing shrink wrap you should, it makes a huge difference.


haitiandev OP t1_j5hpdy5 wrote

u/tehsecretgoldfish you ask a great question. The windows in the house are old. They are wood windows and most of the handles are broken. That is for sure another expense coming.


tehsecretgoldfish t1_j5hpw3m wrote

Frost King window wrap, or the equivalent from Ace Hardware. it’s kind of a fussy process, but it makes a huge difference. you can literally feel cold air rolling off the windows as you put the film up.


somegridplayer t1_j5jbmr4 wrote

This is absolutely huge. We have an old addition on our house that I still need to replace the windows on. The window wrap and draft tape is key to not mowing through all our oil every month.


Quirky_Butterfly_946 t1_j5ha443 wrote

Ya!! Put a sweater on


Linux-Is-Best t1_j5h5ius wrote

1st, if you go with solar panels in the future, be sure to buy and not lease.

The whole point of having solar panels is to either reduce or remove your energy cost, and many of these solar companies want to just give you another monthly bill with a lease agreement. Additionally, many homeowner insurance policies will not cover the damage or repair to both your solar panels or roof, while you are leasing solar panels. That means if they're installed wrong or some freak weather happens, you're stuck with the cost to fix everything. Lastly, many of those credits, rebates, and tax incentives only apply if you are buying solar panels, not leasing.


OandKrailroad t1_j5ju617 wrote

I agree and disagree. Wish I had bought outright, and own the system, but I chose to lease them. It’s 70$ a month, and I haven’t had to pay for electricity over that since the system got installed. It’s not a great option, but 70$ on a lease is better than $500


Linux-Is-Best t1_j5jyc07 wrote

  • $500 x 1 payment = 500


  • 70 x 12 months = 840 x 2 years = 1,680 x 2 more years = 3,360 x forever = $$$

No, I think buying is your more affordable option. It's just the upfront cost seems to catch people. One is an endless money pit, while the other is a short-term loss with a long-term gain.


OandKrailroad t1_j5krdyy wrote

Where is this guy only paying $500 a year?

My electric bill used to be ~$200/month. Now it’s $70. It’s good savings as far as I’m concerned. I could have saved more but buying but I’m still saving something.


Linux-Is-Best t1_j5kss2r wrote

I'm sorry, but I cannot tell if you are intentionally misleading, or you are misunderstanding, or you are comparing apples to oranges (honestly).

$500 1x payment for the 1 solar panel. It would cost more since ideally, you would want more panels and the other equipment, plus installations. Compared to your reoccurring $70 monthly lease fee, which would be forever, adding accumulatively over time.


OandKrailroad t1_j5kuuyd wrote

Ahhh. My bad. I thought your 500$ payment was for the bills mentioned by OP not for buying a panel. I totally agree that buying outright is the better option, I just didn’t want to make that investment. With the lease, the solar company maintains them and replaces broken panels, which to me is worth it for the convenience. For most people in most scenarios, I’d advocate ownership. At the very least DONT choose Sunrun as a provider.


Linux-Is-Best t1_j5kvd8k wrote

> At the very least DONT choose Sunrun as a provider.

On this, I agree. I have heard so many horror stories concerning that company. I recall a whole Facebook group of peer support, with people talking about their experiences. The big problem was the company used a lot of 3rd party contractors and the results of that experience varied widely.


haitiandev OP t1_j5hkh6g wrote

u/Linux-Is-Best thank you for this information. I think I should drop the solar option as it has too many complications. Great input though!


Linux-Is-Best t1_j5hojxx wrote

> u/Linux-Is-Best thank you for this information. I think I should drop the solar option as it has too many complications. Great input though!

Buying solar panels isn't complicated. The complication comes when you lease them. Although, the upfront cost is a bit more when buying, and that sometimes does discourage folks. However, the long-term savings and the added value to your home are worth it.


langjie t1_j5kzlop wrote

+1. go to energysage to get more local quotes. buy and don't lease. ask for cash prices for apples to apples comparisons


knowslesthanjonsnow t1_j5hzy4y wrote

Unless they break my roof?


Linux-Is-Best t1_j5i2qes wrote

> Unless they break my roof?

Nope, not even then. Many insurance companies seem to right off any responsibility if you lease solar panels. That said, even if installed correctly, should you experience normal wear or weather-related damage, they seem to still stiff the consumer if you happen to be leasing panels. The reasoning is that it's not your property that is associated, so they expect the company you are leasing to handle it. But many of those leased companies have a clause waving responsibility. Some people have tried fighting such things, but you're talking about lots of legal costs and time in the process.


ipalush89 t1_j5hhe0v wrote

Seal windows find a mass save contractor to go through the house and see what they recommend and imo pellet stoves are the easiest and cheapest way to tackle our weather it only really cold for 2-3 months and the stove takes the edge off it still costs money to run but has lowered our bills for heating overall heat pump suck once it get sub 30-20 I’ve installed a few for people…I would go gas but none on the street so oil for me as well a new boiler if you have an old one could have a good rebate through mass save


haitiandev OP t1_j5hjyak wrote

u/ipalush89 thank you for your input. Pellets stove were suggested to me as an option as well. I have to mention that the lower level of the house has a fireplace that I never used.

When I was discussing about the pellet stove with other relatives, it was suggested as a good option because the lower level of the house is an open place which will facilitate the distribution of heat at that level.


Illustrious-Mix9904 t1_j5hpeke wrote

If you are not using the fireplace, seal it! It makes such a big difference with drafts. Borrow a temp sensor from your public library and check for cold spots. You are most certainly losing heat somewhere. Good luck and hope everything goes well!


haitiandev OP t1_j5hq8e7 wrote

That is great input. The fireplace is not sealed. I recently brought a thermometer that is a temp sensor option. That is something I can start with for sure. Thank you for your input.


Illustrious-Mix9904 t1_j5hsqe5 wrote

Get some insulation board and tighly seal it. It is an easy DIY project. Check around windows and doors and make sure you get some of the trim that goes around the doors and windows to let them close completely.

Our home is new and has blown in insulation, but the unused fireplace was causing at least a 20 degree temp difference despite the damper being closed.


THINKFR33LY t1_j5hamxw wrote

Heat pump won't be cheaper than oil unless the temps stay in the 40s+, and that's with a brand new heat pump. Electricity is north of 33c/KwH... crushes the value of a heat pump.

I switched my cut over temp to 45f. Anything lower than that and I'm using oil, which right now is a big north of $4/gallon.

As others have said... solar and insulation. Not much else you can do. I did switch to Constellation as my provider, which helps.


MajorProblem50 t1_j5i7nqe wrote

Are you sure you aren't talking about heat pumps with inverters? These days they're fully efficient down to -15F, at least mine is.


THINKFR33LY t1_j5j8iio wrote

They're not fully efficient down to -15. They can produce heat all the at that temp, but they're going to use much more power than at 30f for example.

I have the newest bosch heat pumps. With oil at $4 and electrical at north of 45c with delivery fees, a heat pump with a cop of 3 or so is more expensive than oil with sub freezing temps outside.

The most efficient Mitsubishi mini split might extend that down to the 20s, but def not -15.


techorules t1_j5kvj3v wrote

Maybe not "Fully" efficient but my Mitsu Hyper Heat Pump has a COP of 1.7 at -15 F. So even at those temperatures it can beat out other fuel types depending on prices. For instance for a propane customer even with a fairly high electric rate per kWh would still beat out propane. Probably oil too.


langjie t1_j5l14ap wrote

3412 btu/kwh x 1.7 COP = 5,800 btus.

oil at $4 /gal: 138,700 btus * 80% boiler efficiency = 110,960 btu's (19.1 kwh of heat pump). electricity needs to be at 21 cents/kwh to be equal to $4 oil if outside is @ -15°F

propane at $2.5 /gal: 91,700 btus * 80% boiler efficiency = 73,360 btu's (12.6 kwh of heat pump). electricity needs to be at 20 cents /kwh to be equal to $2.50 propane if outside is -15°F

all depends on the rate but also it's typically not that cold out so the math changes with increased efficiency


techorules t1_j5l3wyu wrote

Cool. Yeah my electricity is way below those figures..... Also propane averages in Mass are way way higher than $2.5. My last delivery (which I am hoping I literally my last ever) was over $4. And with climate change sadly -15F is pretty rare indeed.


oceanblake t1_j5ibkkm wrote

What he says it wont be cheaper. Analogy to this may be electric car would not save that much money in winter compared to efficient gas/hybrid when electricity is this high we have now


mountainwocky t1_j5js2ok wrote

I actually used the efficiency specs for our heat pump to calculate cost to operate at various temperatures and was surprised to find that operating our heat pump is actually less expensive than running our pellet stove.

Actual use correlated well with the calculated savings to use the heat pump too.

I’ll switch over to the pellet stove only once temps fall to below 20F. It’s nice because where I’d buy and burn 3 tons of pellets in a winter, now I only go through a ton. Newer heat pumps are even more efficient than my system and can show saving even in subzero temperatures.


SeaworthinessLeft88 t1_j5l6wq1 wrote

It really depends. I’m fortunate to have a community aggregate program, and after doing the actual math, oil needs to be below $3/gal for it to be cheaper than running the heat pump on my current electricity rates. Right now, it’s going for roughly $4/gal, so it’s not even close.

My heat pump isn’t new, but it’s not old either (installed in 2016). It’s a power hog under ~20F, but I think it’s still cheaper than burning oil at these rates.


wkomorow t1_j5hh55f wrote

You did not mention which city/town you are in. Check to see if you are covered by municipal aggregation:

Prices are much less. I am currently paying 9 cents a kwh.


haitiandev OP t1_j5hlfm9 wrote

Hello! Sorry! I did not mention which city or town for privacy reasons. my Reddit name is too specific to what I do. I am reading the information in the link that you shared above. It looks the same as what National Grid gave me right now. I will be sure to keep doing more research tough. Perhaps I am missing some useful information. Thank you for sharing.


StrangerInPerson t1_j5i8g6j wrote

Go to the hardware store and get yourself some plastic window insulation and install it. It takes a couple of minutes per window and has cut my utility bill considerably. Just do it.


bandalbumorsongname t1_j5hjga9 wrote

You should start with insulation and air sealing, which is going to have a much higher ROI than changing your heating type. I would also suggest Googling the “energy efficiency pyramid” for other low hanging fruit on reducing your electricity consumption that should be pursued first.


haitiandev OP t1_j5hm360 wrote

Thank you very much! I guess I can get more information about insulation from an auditor once I am able to get an appointment. Do you have experience with this kind of work?


dew2459 t1_j5i2qfd wrote

The simplest thing to start is to walk around to your windows when it is cold, and just feel for drafts. Roll up a towel, or use something like grey caulk weather cord (something cheap from any hardware store) to block drafts. For doors, there are a variety if fixes, with a rolled up towel a quick fix for drafts under the doors.


Dismal_Ad_9603 t1_j5hn5qv wrote

Switch your supplier. Cut my supply rate nearly 50%. Not perfect but every little bit helps. Turn off light’s when you’re not using them etc. Some heat pumps aren’t very efficient as temperatures drop, and they will work hard to reach the desired temperature. I shut mine off at the end of November and I will just the oil until March/April.


MajorProblem50 t1_j5i8l9f wrote

$1000 for a 3600sqft house is about right. My last bill was around $350 for a 1400 sqft with all heat pump and your house is almost 2.5x bigger than mine. You're spending a lot of money to heat a lot of empty rooms unless your household is huge. Upgrading to a new system will add more bills, especially if you're not qualified for mass save which I don't know how that's possible... I thought the rebate was for everyone.

The only way to lower those bills is going to be through labor. Install a fireplace insert and freestanding wood stove and start chopping woods. There are tons of people who would love to give you free wood if you can remove their logs and split it yourself.


Beck316 t1_j5jcwul wrote

What temperature do you have your thermostat set? That's probably the biggest thing you can do, lower it. Wear socks, long pants, hoodies inside. Draft stoppers at doors, window wrap kits (surprisingly effective for old windows),


PakkyT t1_j5jr4b9 wrote

How do you not qualify for Mass Save if you are a National Grid electrical service customer? You are paying into the program. It is the "Energy Efficiency Chg" under the delivery services portion of your bill. If you see that charge, then you should qualify for the Mass Save program and services.


CloroxWipes1 t1_j5kqsf4 wrote

I got into a contract with Town Square Energy as a supplier about a year ago and I pay only 11.7 cents /kwh.

Also, my business partner started unplugging everything in his house that was not needed and his bill dropped by $150 / mo.

Look for cheaper supplier and unplug lamps and such you are not using.


Dmurphy2016 t1_j5hj4nc wrote

Do you just have electric or natural gas also? $1000 electric bill is extremely high. Is the heat pump using the electric heat strips to heat? If so that uses ALOT of energy and could be part of the reason. Also look into getting a different energy supplier. You can lock in a rate at like .17-.20 cents instead of national grids like .35 cent Kwh cost


Ok_Fox_1770 t1_j5hn61w wrote

Changed my supplier again, I was gettin robbed by NRG since you forget to cancel, used $120 worth and supplier charges over $209 oh fack you. I dunno what’s normal anymore. It’s getting rediculous.


Fisk75 t1_j5ho8lr wrote

$45-60k for a new heating system? Did you add an extra zero there?


rogerthat65 t1_j5hv99s wrote

The reason they asked that question is because that is an unusually high price to replace a heating system of course depending upon the size of your home? I am a plumbing and heating contractor and have been for 30 years hear in Massachusetts. Please be more specific about your situation so we can give you some positive feedback and maybe help you with your situation.


haitiandev OP t1_j5hox5o wrote

No, I did not. I would not be having this problem today if the extra zero was not real.


mullethunter111 t1_j5htj93 wrote

What’s your square footage?


haitiandev OP t1_j5hwwb9 wrote

u/mullethunter111 my square footage is close to 3600.


mullethunter111 t1_j5i08jr wrote

There’s your problem. Bigger house: more expensive to heat, cool, clean and maintain.


chadwickipedia t1_j5i8buv wrote

What is causing the electric bill to be so high? My house is 3900 sqft and my electric bill is $120/month.


thenexttimebandit t1_j5igoz6 wrote

Plastic wrapping the windows, blocking up the fireplace, and weatherstripping the doors should help and it will be cheap. Putting in a new system is gonna be expensive and won’t do much good if you are losing a ton of heat out of the house. Mass save should be able to help with the cost of adding more insulation


HebrewHammer14 t1_j5j4f0l wrote

You aren’t locked into national grid, you can shop your electricity around to find a cheaper provider


Fun_Top5285 t1_j5jixw6 wrote

Install a pellet stove or wood stove and shut down the heat pumps. It will heat your whole living area. You can install a PS in an existing fireplace or through a wall. I save thousands. Live in the North and between less sun and trees, solar does not do the job. My pellet stove cost $900. 7 years ago.


wombat5003 t1_j5k5jny wrote

Honest.. you have to do what my wife and I do… basically live like cave weights… you have to get into the habit of turning off all lights as soon as you leave a room, and use a lower wattage bulbs on all your lights… also, if you have a lot of things plugged into your walls, coffee makers, and other appliance including phone chargers, unplug them when not in use…. Do not use space heaters, as they are a monster for using up electricity… for the 2 of us, we average around 150 bucks a month, but when the rates are lower, it’s around 100 a month


techorules t1_j5kuwxl wrote

Lights use very very little electricity. The OP says he has a heat pump which is where is money is going. How much lights are left on is nothing but a rounding error compared to the electrical cost of heaters, fans and pumps (if you have a well pump).


Fresh-Muscle610 t1_j5l7g6b wrote

Have you considered installing a wood or wood pellet stove? We had issues with MassSave too and now our wood pellet stove cranks and does a great job with our main living spaces (minus bedroom).


LordTomofHouseBrady t1_j5hny0v wrote

My bill hasnt been that bad all winter and now im worried im going to get fucked at some point?


UsedCollection5830 t1_j5iq8zn wrote

I say go with a gas conversion kit convert your boiler to natural with a conversion kit


SeaworthinessLeft88 t1_j5l9xyr wrote

Dude, $1000/month is insane.

I have an induction range, electric dryer, an EV, and a heat pump system that was installed in 2016 that has been heating my 2000 sq ft house all winter. December and January’s bills were ~$370. I do have solar, but those panels really don’t produce a lot in the winter. I think I had slightly under 400 kWhrs for my 6kW system for December. I have an oil boiler also for hot water that I’ve been forgoing for heat this year due to oil prices.

I would target your insulation and windows first and foremost, assuming your costs are coming from heating primarily, and you’re not running crypto mining rigs or grow lamps 24/7. If you have bad insulation/windows, you’re literally just burning away your money as heat leaks out of your house. If it’s an old house with old windows, there might not be any insulation in the walls at all, and single-pane windows are very drafty and inefficient.

A heat pump upgrade might be next on the list. I’d really question that estimate. Mine was $16k (ductless mini split, 4 zones) when it was installed in ‘16.

I’m kind of thinking you might have municipal power since you’re not eligible for MassSave. If that’s the case, you might be out of luck with switching suppliers (I’m not sure how muni electricity works). If you can switch suppliers, that’s something that you can do right now to potentially reduce your electricity bill by a large amount. If your town has a community aggregate supplier, you definitely want to sign up for that.

I would put solar at the bottom of the list. Solar’s great; I have a 6 kW system myself. But what you produce in the winter is not going to come close to substantial offsetting a bill like that. For $1000, I would guess that your consumption is around 2-3 MWhrs or more. Like I said, my 6 kW system produces a measly 300-500 kWhrs during winter months.

Finally, with bills like that, it might even warrant a call to your electric company to see what’s going on, and to make sure that you don’t have a faulty meter or are a victim of electricity theft. You could flip off your breaker and observe the meter. If it’s still moving with the master breaker off, something shady is going on.


GibsonL-5 t1_j5mo6my wrote

I live in Massachusetts and have worked in the utility industry for 40 years. Here's some advice that worked for me. First thing I would recommend is to replace ever light outlet with a LED lamp or system. I replaced my 20 year old oil furnace with a modern system for $9,500 and so far oil has cost me less than $1,500 this season. Also have your present system cleaned and inspected. Finally, as the cost of electricity is far above the cost of oil I would stop using the heat pump as much as possible. I cook and dry my clothing with gas and I do much baking in the winter. MassSave should provide you with a free energy audit that will show you where your home is consuming energy and what steps you may take to make improvements and the cost of these recommendations. This will include the cost of insulation, replacing your oil heating system with a newer style unit, window replacement, etc. They have very good energy auditors. Call them again and ask for an energy audit. MassSave also has a list of contractors and well as some financial aid.

If it is possible to move to a new community in Massachusetts I would also recommend looking at the 42 communities that have their own municipal electric companies. The one that serves my area has never exceeded $0.1875/kWh (minus the $5.00 customer charge) that's sorta still expensive but much cheaper than National Greed or Eversore. (Imo, another reason why this country should not allow foreign companies to own critical resources.) I live in a large five bedroom, three bathroom house built in 1919 and I've done all of the above and my electric bill has never exceeded $50.00/month but I do live alone and keep my house at 64 degrees with electronic thermostats and because my home is large it is broken up into four independently controlled heating zones. I also keep all of the many doors in the house closed. My hot water is off of the tankless boiler so it is heated with oil. If you are using any form of electric heating shut that off immediately and move heat from one area to this area.

Massachusetts is the only New England State that is divided into three separate transmission areas because it is at the cross road between New York and southern New England energy grids. Check out ISO.NE's web page to review current real time energy prices and transmission costs and restraints. It's very interesting. Finally, one of the real reasons why electricity is so expensive in Massachusetts is partly do to the transmission system upgrades currently underway and the lavish ROI the FERC gave the transmission owners to urge them to do so. (This was what was behind the merger of NorthEast Utilities and Boston Edison; NU had the need and BE had the financial resources.)

Good luck, and I hope that you find this useful.


Past-Adhesiveness150 t1_j5hjfzu wrote

Ha... the Fuckers shut off my power right before the storm the other day. Owed 1800. Last payment in Oct...oops. but found out that my rate more than doubled through the 3rd party we work with. If we were billed through national grid directly, it would have tripled what we were paying. What the fuck happened to 60%?


Separate-Sky-1451 t1_j5jqrlb wrote

I moved out of MA. That's how I fixed this problem.