Rita B
Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD)
Location: 
Charlestown
Technology: 
Mini-splits

Rita B. has lived in her three-story Charlestown town house since 1968, and last month her mini-splits allowed her to heat and cool her home for only $21.58—her lowest bill in 50 years.

“I’m looking at it like, ‘Am I missing a couple of numbers?’”

MassCEC’s Low-Income Challenge funded the adoption of clean energy technologies for low-income residents like Rita across the state. As part of that program, MassCEC partnered with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) to install mini-splits for 67 homeowners earning less than 60 percent of the state median income and receiving fuel assistance from ABCD to power their old, inefficient electric heating systems. Mini-splits are more efficient than traditional electric heating, and Rita is able to save even more than the average adopter because she received her system for free through the initiative.

Rita, a retired waitress, had not heard about mini-splits until ABCD recommended them as a more efficient alternative to electric baseboard heating. Her new system, which regulates humidity as well as temperature, works better than her previous electric heating regardless of the outside temperature.

“It’s fantastic! The minute you put it on the cool air comes right in, or the hot air comes right in. It just takes a couple of minutes.”

Rita’s mini-splits were installed in October, and she was especially pleased by how well the system worked during the winter months. In a typical winter one of her pipes will freeze over, but she didn’t have to replace any this year despite the historic cold snap.

Thanks to her mini-splits, Rita saves about $100 a month on utilities, which she plans to put toward a vacation to a warm destination.

Other projects completed under the Low Income Challenge include installing 15 solar electric systems on Habitat for Humanity homes on Cape Cod, installing monitoring and optimization equipment on boilers in more than 100 affordable housing developments, and funding energy audits for affordable housing.