NEW BRITAIN — Friday morning Mayor Tim O’Brien stopped at his South High Street home to find about a dozen strangers. But that was OK because
he was expecting them.
The mayor was having a Home Energy Solutions assessment on his circa-1830 home. The attractive Victorian house, with marble fireplaces and carved molding around the windows, was being inspected with an eye toward making it more energy efficient.
“I’m trying to provide an example for our residents,” he said. “This is the oldest house downtown. We have gas heat but also have to use electric space heaters. There are inefficiencies that need to be addressed.”

O’Brien is hoping to inspire other residents to have their homes assessed. Later this month the Common Council is expected to sign the new Clean Energy
Communities pledge. This program provides incentives to cities and towns across the state to support energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy sources. Under the program, New Britain would pledge to reduce its municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent and will try to purchase 20 percent of its municipal energy needs from clean, renewable sources by 2018.

In return, whenever a housing unit in the city, whether a home, apartment or condo, has an energy assessment done, the city gets 100 points. After amassing 15,000 points, the city gets a grant that can be used for any energy-saving program in a municipal building. It can receive up to two grants a year, according to Diana McCarthy-Bercury, a program administrator for the Clean Energy Communities program, which is administered by Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas.
The assessment’s cost is $75 and homeowners can receive up to $700 of
improvements in the few hours it takes to do the assessment. Possible
improvements include; identifying and sealing air leaks from windows, doors,
attics and ductwork; installing low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and hot
water pipe insulation; and replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-saving
compact fluorescent light bulbs.

More expensive work, such as insulation and an energy-efficient heater, can be
arranged. Low-interest financing and partial rebates are available for some
projects. The cost can even be added in installments to a customer’s bill.

“We’re going town by town to inspire people and bring in a grassroots element,”
said Ellen Rosenthal, a marketing specialist for Connecticut Light & Power
and Yankee Gas. “Anyone in the state who is served by CL&P can get an

Victory Energy Solutions did the assessment. After it was done, assessors sat
down with O’Brien to offer recommendations, which were not available by press time.
“We are partnering with many towns,” said Raquel Kennedy, a principal in the
company. “We help people save energy, which makes their homes healthier, safer and more comfortable.”

To schedule an assessment, call 1-877-WISE-USE (947-3873).