Mike Cappuccio of N.E.T.R. Inc. talks about the current rebates offered by Mass Save in 2022, what you need to do to quality for them, and what type of equipment you can install.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Mike Cappuccio, founder of N.E.T.R., Inc. heating and cooling company in Massachusetts with a focus on Mitsubishi ductless heating and cooling products. Today, we’re talking about ductless rebates. Welcome Mike.
Mike Cappuccio: Good afternoon, John. How are you?
2022 Ductless Rebates
John: Good, thanks. So Mike, tell us a little bit more about the mass save heat pump rebates that are available for consumers in 2022.
Mike: Well, John, there’s been a lot of changes from 2021 to 2022 with the air source heat pump rebates. A lot of stuff got released the first part of the year in ‘22, where they were offering certain dollar amounts for whole home rebates, where you’re basically removing your heating system or disconnecting your heating system or leaving your heating system in place and not going to use it. They had offered one dollar amount for that. It was $10,000 per home, and that was with oil and propane and electric. There was nothing out for the gas at the time. Since then on February 28th, we had a meeting with Mass Save that we went on. We all listened to a kickoff meeting, and now natural gas rebates are available for your home.
So the way that they’re working now is there’s two different types rebates. There’s a whole home rebate and there’s a partial rebate. So what has to happen with the whole home rebate, first off the system has to be a rebatable piece of equipment. So how do we determine that? It’s a rebatable piece of equipment, it’s on… masssave.com/hpqpl is the website, and that’s where the products are listed. They have to be cold climate air source heat pumps, first off, and they have to fall into a certain criteria of energy efficiency.
Cold Climate Heat Pumps
John: So the cold climate heat pumps. Tell me a little bit more about those. Those are rated down to a certain temperature. Is that right?
Mike: Yes, John, so a cold climate heat pump basically gives you full capacity at the cold temperature. Let’s say they’re rated at 5 degrees and -13 degrees. So basically what I mean by a rating is, let’s say that outdoor unit that you put outside your home has a rating of 48,000 BTUs at +5 degrees Fahrenheit. That means at 5 degrees Fahrenheit, that heat pump will give you 48,000 BTUs of heat. Now, the old heat pumps, at 5 degrees that 48,000 BTU heat pump might have only given you 10,000 BTUs. So that’s what we mean by a cold climate air source heat pump. It can give you full heating capacity at the cold climates. So now moving forward with that, first off, that piece of equipment has to fall into the SEER rating, the EER and the HSFP numbers that Mass Save has dictated that they want for the rebates.
Air Source Heat Pump Whole Home Rebate
Now, there is what we call a whole home rebate. Which is basically, you’re going to either disconnect the existing heating system, leave the heating system, and not use that heating system in the home. So now what you have to do to apply for the whole home rebate is…first off, the amount is $10,000 per home, but there are some stipulations to get the $10,000. First off is you have to have a home energy audit, and weatherization has to be looked at from the point of, “is this home tight”? “Does it need air sealing? Does it need insulation?” The reason being is the heat pump is probably not going to give you as much heating capacity as your boiler would. Example, if you have an 80,000 BTU boiler and you tighten up the home, and insulate it, new windows, sealing, etc., you could probably reduce the heating load in that house down to 50,000 BTUs where the heat pump now would work in a whole home scenario.
Basically what they want to do is they want to get the home tight and make it energy efficient. So, in order to get the $10,000 rebate, you have to have a certificate from the weatherization contractor saying, “Hey, this is what we recommended that the home needs for weather sealing and/or insulation, and it has been done.” So you have to get that certificate saying, “yes, it has been done” to apply for the $10,000 rebate. And you have to disconnect, or not use the existing heating system, only in emergency situations. Basically you can’t use your heating system at all at that point. And that goes for oil, gas, propane, and electric. So that’s what would be used. You can also put electric heat in small areas in the home — bathrooms, etc.; that can be done. Now that would be to get the whole home rebate. That’s the big change this year, the $10,000 whole home rebate.
But again, some things need to be done before you can apply for that $10,000 rebate. N.E.T.R. will help you with the paperwork, with all of these online forms. They had basically said that about 30% of the applications that do come into Mass Save get rejected because of just homeowners trying to do the paperwork, trying to send it in. There is an online portal where you can submit it right on the website for Mass Save, so there is a spot right there you can go in and do everything. It’s best to do it online versus mail it in on paper. And we will help with those online rebates to get you that $10,000. But again, you could purchase the heat pump system, install it in the house, get the weatherization done later, get the $10,000 back.
Weatherization and Energy Audits
John: Oh, okay. So that, weatherization doesn’t necessarily have to be done before you install the system?
Mike: It does not, but if you want the $10,000 back quickly, your weatherization has to be done. Now there’s also another way that the contractor can take the $10,000 right off of the invoice for the heat pump for the homeowner immediately. But the weatherization needs to be done prior to that, because what we can’t do is take the $10,000 off of the invoice of the job and then wait for the homeowner to go get the weatherization done, or they might never do the weatherization. And then the contractor would be out the $10,000 rebate. So, everything needs to be approved up front before that all gets done. So, there are a few stipulations there on getting that $10,000. Everyone just thinks, “Oh, I can just get $10,000 back. I could do my whole home.” But that’s not the case. Weatherization needs to be looked at very closely.
You do need a home energy audit. If you have had insulation done in your home prior to the beginning of this year. It will go back a year and go look at, “Okay, what was done for weatherization? Let’s see the weatherization certificate, let’s see what can get done.” And that could apply if it was already done prior.
Heat Pump Partial Rebates
The second way now is the partial home rebates. And these are very similar to what was done last year is it’s $1,250 of rebate per 12,000 BTUs of heating or cooling up to $10,000. So it maxes out at $10,000. So now an example of this would be, if you were to put in a system in your home and you’re only doing a partial home, let’s say you were doing the first floor of your home and you were putting in a, I don’t know, a two ton heat pump — let’s just say for sake of example right now — and that’s 24,000 BTUs.
You would need to put in integrated controls to integrate the heat pump with the existing zone in the home. And that would be eligible for $2,500 in the rebate. Home weatherization does not need to be done for partial home. Integrated controls — what are those? That means that above 30 degrees, let’s say, you’re going to use your heat pump to heat that section of the home and below 30 degrees, you’re going to use the existing heat source to heat the home below 30 degrees. That’s how that rebate would apply.
John: So that rebate only applies if you have the integrated controls set up?
Mike: Yes. Last year’s rebates there were some smaller rebates for, I don’t know, anywhere from around $200 to maybe $300 or $400 for any fuel, without integrated controls. That is gone this year, that does not apply anymore. And the other thing is that all of these rebatable pieces of equipment, if you are in an area where you are not using a municipal electric company, are all eligible for the 0%, seven-year financing as well through the Mass Save heat loan as well. And we can do pre-approvals on that, but again, you would need weatherization done on that if you were looking for the whole home rebate up to the $10,000. And this is eligible for, I think, one to four family homes too, as well. So it has a lot of different things of what’s going on with it. So, the eligibility is in here, the offers are only valid for Berkshire Gas, Cape Light Compact, Eversource, Liberty Utilities, National Grid. It basically has to be done through a program sponsor.
The equipment does need to be installed by a licensed contractor. And it does go up to one to four family homes and it can supplement oil, natural gas, electric, as long as those were the sources of the heat in the home. And there is also a whole home heat pump verification form that’s going to need to be signed off on by the homeowner and the contractor saying, “what was done in the home? What did you do? Was the weatherization looked at? The preexisting heating system, was it removed? Was it left in place? Was it disconnected, or was it left there in an emergency situation as outlined that the system cannot be used [except] in only an emergency situation?” And there’s some check boxes off on there.
There’s a lot of paperwork that needs to get done with the rebates. I wouldn’t recommend that a homeowner go online and try and do this on their own. We’re here to help. We want to help. So we’re definitely… We’ve actually just hired a person full time to help with the rebates in the company, just to do a lot of these rebates, because we see a lot of these are going to be coming down the pike and we want to make sure that the people get their rebates quick, fast, efficiently. So, we’re here to help you fill them out and do them online. And then anything else we could do to speed up the process.
Ductless Rebates Changes from 2021 to 2022
John: Right. So you mentioned some of the things that changed from 2021. You said that now with those partial applications, you’re no longer able to get the rebate unless you do the integrated controls. Are there any other sort of things like that, that people might have been looking at last year, that this year they is a change from 2021?
Mike: I think the biggest thing that people were looking at from 2021 to 2022 was everyone was hearing about this $10,000 rebate for air source heat pumps, because obviously…look, air source heat pumps sometimes are savings in a home. Sometimes they’re not a savings in a home. What we are doing though is reducing the carbon footprint by using the heat pumps to heat the home, and tightening them up. In some cases, there can be a savings. It really depends on how you use the system in the home, but the question you asked me from 2021 to 2022 was we’re hearing that there’s going to be a $10,000 rebate if you install a heat pump in your home. The other thing it can’t do is the $10,000 can’t be more than what the system cost. Example, you’re putting a heat pump in your home to do the first floor. Let’s say it costs $6,000. You don’t get the $10,000 rebate. You’d only get [up to] $6,000 — you’re not going to make $4,000 on this. You know what I mean?
John: Yeah. And you’d have to have a pretty small home for one unit to heat the whole home.
Mike: Exactly, yeah. I mean, that’s probably not going to be the situation, but everyone was saying, “When are we going to get the $10,000? When is it all going to come out?” It was not released for natural gas until almost about a week ago prior to doing this podcast. So that was the big thing. But weatherization came into play just within the last couple of weeks where they’re saying, “Hey, well, wait a minute. We’re willing to give the rebates for natural gas, but we want to make sure these homes are tight and that an auditor has gone out and looked at them and that energy efficiency upgrades have been made to the home and the weatherization has been done. It’s tight.”
And in some cases, weatherization is in the insulation is anywhere from 75% to a hundred percent paid for by the utilities. So I mean, you have to have the weatherization contractor to come out and look at it. I mean, we’ve teamed up with an energy auditor and an insulation company as well. So we do have the ability to book those home energy audits for you with a company called Neeeco that we’re using right now too. And they actually have insulation crews that can go out and do the insulation as well.
John: Might a homeowner have to replace windows and things like that as well, in order to tighten up the home?
Mike: I think it’s all going to depend on what the energy auditor sees when they’re out there, John. Obviously the tighter the home, the less heat usage. One of the biggest problems I see a lot, is people install an air source heat pump in a home, to try to heat it, that has no insulation. It could be an older Victorian and no insulation in the walls, 30 year old windows, and you’ve got an 80,000 or a 100,000 BTU boiler in the basement heating that home. And then you put in a 48,000 BTU heat pump. Well, what’s going to happen when it’s four degrees or five degrees, the heat pump is going to run at full speed, maxed out, trying to heat that house as fast as it can. And it’s just going to create a ton of energy bills to you at that point, because it’s not ramping down. It’s not being efficient at that point. It can’t even heat the home at that point. It’s probably one of the biggest problems we see.
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Mike. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Mike: Thanks, John.John: And for more information, you can visit the N.E.T.R. Website at netrinc.com or call (781) 933-N-E-T-R. That’s (781) 933-6387.