Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

HAC Energy Assessments in High Demand

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 @ 10:36 AM
HAC Energy-1.jpgThe HAC Energy team includes Jim Ames (from left), Suzanne Smith, Jo Ann Cournoyer and Ruth Bechtold.

Typically on Cape Cod this is a slow time of year, but don’t tell that to HAC’s Energy Department which is busier than ever. “We are in high demand,” Suzanne Smith, HAC Energy’s intake/outreach coordinator, said.

Smith and Ruth Bechtold, who manages the Energy Department, attributed that demand to the frigid temperatures which have left its mark on the Cape this winter. Because of the weather, residents are looking for ways to keep their home warmer and reduce their energy costs.

Working with Cape Light Compact, HAC offers free energy assessments throughout the year to low-income residents living in single-family and multi-family homes on Cape Cod and the Islands, as well as Wareham. Those who receive fuel assistance or are eligible to receive fuel assistance or discounted utility rates can qualify for a HAC energy assessment.

HAC’s energy auditors, Jim Ames and Joshua Trott, conduct the assessments, which include replacing all inefficient light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs and checking refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioning units, dehumidifiers, and washing machines to determine if they are eligible for replacement.

As part of the assessment, they will inspect a home’s heating system to see whether it should be repaired or replaced. In some instances those services can be performed through HAC’s HEARTWAP (Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program).

The auditors also look at whether a home can benefit from insulation and air sealing which “seals up all the air pathways,” Smith said.

“If all air leaks are not sealed, it can be like having an open window in your house,” Bechtold explained. “Sealing all those cracks makes sure no warm, humid air escapes into the attic where it can create moisture issues.”

HAC’s weatherization measures can also include the installation of vents which allows an attic to properly breathe and helps to minimize issues with moisture that can lead to mold.

Both Smith and Bechtold agreed that the work HAC’s Energy Department does is not only important, but rewarding.

“We’re helping people save money, save energy and increase the overall comfort of the home, and in doing so we’re also staying true to what the agency’s values are,” Smith said. “We really enjoy and get a lot of satisfaction out of helping those who need our services the most.”

Schedule an Energy Assessment Today

You can schedule an energy assessment by calling Cape Light Compact at 800-797-6699. 

HAC Energy provides no cost energy assessments and weatherization measures to income-eligible homeowners and renters. If you receive fuel assistance or a discounted utility rate, or you are income-eligible for fuel assistance, you will receive these services through HAC. 

Tags: Energy Assessments, Cape Light Compact, HAC Energy, saving energy, Energy Audit, Weatherization, Ruth Bechtold, Suzanne Smith, Jim Ames, Joshua Trott, energy efficiency

HAC Selects Al DiMuzio to Helm Energy and Repair Department

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 @ 12:45 PM
Al DiMuzio Edited.jpgAl DiMuzio, the new director of HAC's Energy and Repair Department. 

Imagine living in a home without any electricity or running water. For HAC’s Al DiMuzio, he didn’t have to imagine it. He actually experienced it, roughly 35 years ago.

“When I first moved to Maine and bought a property, I lived off the grid to understand how those things can be extras,” he said. “I had a well for water, candles and gaslights for lights and used a hand pump for the shower. I called it voluntarily simplicity. I had heard the term used and I liked it a lot. It was really a simpler life, not necessarily an easier one.”

While he eventually returned to the comforts we all enjoy, those early experiences in Maine have colored his work at HAC where he has served as an auditor for single-family and multi-family homes in the agency’s Energy and Repair Department for nearly seven years. “Within the context of this department, we have a lot of grateful clients and there’s a satisfaction in helping them not only reduce their energy costs, but making Cape Cod’s carbon footprint a little smaller since they’re saving a tremendous amount of electricity and saving gas and oil with the insulation we do,” he said.

In December, DiMuzio was given the opportunity to enact even greater change when he was named the interim director of the department. He will replace longtime staffer Nancy Davison who is retiring this year.

DiMuzio arrived at HAC in 2010 with four decades’ worth of experience in the construction industry that began on Nantucket in the early 70s following a stint in the U.S. Army. “From there I went to Maine and did all sorts of construction work including residential, commercial, federal jobs, sewer installations, foundations and framing, the whole nine yards,” he said.

DiMuzio, who grew up in Framingham, returned to Massachusetts in 1998 to be closer to family. He spent the majority of the next 11 years employed as a finish carpenter with E.J. Jaxtimer Builder before the economy collapsed in 2009. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs, DiMuzio was certified as a building analyst by the Building Professionals Institute, authorizing him to conduct energy audits. “Within six weeks the job was advertised here [at HAC] and I was interviewed and lucky enough to get it,” DiMuzio said.

While his initial focus was on single-family homes, the bulk of his work has been on auditing and weatherizing multi-family homes owned by local public housing authorities and landlords of affordable units.

Davison credited DiMuzio for overseeing HAC’s multi-family weatherization program. “When we went through a restructuring three years ago to separate out our multi-family work from single-family, Al was the first one who said, ‘Yes, I want to do it,’” Davison said. “That is the type of motivation he has. If anything comes up that’s a new function or responsibility, he is always the one who volunteers to do it.”

Beyond his resolute nature, Davison said, “he is extremely talented and passionate about helping people.”

In his new position, DiMuzio will continue being able to do just that. “I’m really excited to be able to step into this position and kind of drive the bus and see where we get,” he said.

To learn more about HAC's free energy audits or to schedule one for your home, call Cape Light Compact at 800-797-6699 or click the button below. 

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Tags: Energy Assessments, HAC Energy, saving energy, Energy Audit, Weatherization, Al DiMuzio

The Heart Behind HEARTWAP

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 @ 10:22 AM


Often times there are acronyms for housing programs that don’t necessarily tell the entire story about how meaningful such a program can be for clients. And so it is with HEARTWAP, which stands for Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program.

On behalf of the state, HAC oversees HEARTWAP on Cape Cod and the islands. The figurative “heart” behind HEARTWAP is HAC’s Jo Ann Cournoyer.

Nancy Davison, HAC’s vice president of program operations, had high praise for Cournoyer’s work which “has resulted in people being safe and warm in their homes,” adding that HEARTWAP is “one of those hidden program gems which continues to provide valuable services because it is managed by a committed and competent HAC staff person.”

In April, Cournoyer celebrated her 10-year anniversary at HAC. “I love working at HAC and enjoy the tasks associated with my work,” Cournoyer said. For the past eight years, Cournoyer’s focus has largely been on managing the HEARTWAP program.

HEARTWAP provides emergency repairs and replacements of heating systems for homeowners who are receiving fuel assistance and whose income does not exceed 60 percent of the estimated state median income, equivalent to $33,126 for a one-person family; $43,319 for a two-person family; and $53,511 for a three-person family.

Cournoyer receives referrals from HAC’s energy auditors, other agencies and heating contractors. Once she receives permission from the homeowner to provide assistance, Cournoyer will set up a work authorization, sending a contractor to the home to determine if it’s a quick repair or more involved. Every situation is different, Cournoyer said, and could involve asbestos, mold or frozen pipes.

“The objective is to restore heat during emergencies and improve the efficiency of their heating system,” Cournoyer said, noting that the benefits of HEARTWAP is that “it helps with the economics of a client’s life… Heating system work is expensive.”

Last year, HAC was able to replace 45 heating systems, repair 193, clean and tune 218 and replace 26 oil tanks, work that these clients could not have paid for on their own.

To determine if you might quality for the HEARTWAP program, contact Jo Ann Cournoyer at 508-771-5400, ext. 106 or at jcournoyer@haconcapecod.org

Tags: Energy Assessments, HAC Energy, Jo Ann Cournoyer, HEARTWAP

HAC Offers Free Energy Assessments

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Jul 08, 2013 @ 01:03 PM

The Housing Assistance Corporation’s Energy program is reminding Cape Codders—homeowners and renters alike--that summer is the time to call about getting a free energy assessment for your home.

HAC’s state-certified auditors conduct the assessments to help people reduce their energy use in order to save money on heating and cooling bills and make their home’s temperature more comfortable.  Proper insulation helps make your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Those who qualify under income guidelines by earning under 60 percent of state median income may receive energy-saving light bulbs, water conservation tools, and other energy-saving devices.

Income qualified homeowners and tenants may receive free weatherization installations identified during the audit. In addition, your inefficient refrigerator, window air conditioner or heating unit may qualify for a free, high-efficiency replacement.

Funding for the program on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard comes from the Department of Community Development, Cape Light Compact, and National Grid.

For more information or to schedule your free energy assessment, call Cape Light Compact at 800-797-6699.

Tags: Affordable Housing on Cape Cod, Energy Assessments, Energy Audit

Editorial: Hershey's Kisses

Posted by Laura Reckford on Mon, Jun 03, 2013 @ 04:01 PM

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The following is excerpted from a speech made at HAC’s annual meeting and volunteer recognition dinner

Most people on the Cape and islands don’t know much about HAC.

Hershey Chocolate Company in Hershey, Pennsylvania has the opposite problem. Everyone knows what Hershey does: makes chocolate. People value chocolate and get instant

gratification from it.

HAC doesn’t provide instant gratification. But like Hershey’s,

HAC produces useful products. They make lots of chocolate and we make lots of peoples’ lives better.

Here are 10 of the many things that HAC does:

1. Foreclosure Help

For more than six years we have had three people working on foreclosures full time, serving well over 3,000 Cape and islands homeowners. We still average 13 new cases each week!

Our data shows that we have had successful outcomes in nearly 2/3 of our cases. We have never charged a penny.

2. Energy Services

For four decades we have made homes owned and rented by lower income Cape and islanders safer, more comfortable, less expensive to operate and more energy efficient.

Hundreds are helped each year and thousands have been helped overall. And we replaced or repaired 288 failing heating systems last year at no charge, not to mention the 442 we cleaned and tuned!

3. Section 8 Assistance

We have nearly 1,000 rental units where we assist the occupants. Many receiving help are elderly or disabled and many are families with jobs that just don’t pay enough. About 10% a year are able to opt out of the program.

4. Family Self-Sufficiency

Family Self Sufficiency participants get long term counseling to help them build employment skills and increase financial literacy. We have about 50 families now working to earn more, improve their credit, save enough money to buy a house or get more education, and to make progress towards moving away from public assistance.

5. Housing Development and Facility Maintenance

HAC has built well over 100 single family homes and more than 300 apartments, all of which are affordable. We have also built housing for people with disabilities. We have nearly 200 units in various stages of pre-development right now.

6. HCEC Services

We provide time and advice to help anyone facing housing crises. In 2012 we served 3,850 households one-on-one in this way.

7. Classes and workshops

We have held evening workshops for nearly 20 years on subjects such as Creating a Budget, Rebuilding Your Credit, Home Forever for homeowners, and Homebuyer Education.

In 2012 we had 363 people complete one or more of these workshop series.

8. Shelter

Each night, 365 nights and days a year our family and individual shelters provide a safe environment for people who have nowhere to go. We wish shelters weren’t needed, but until they are not, we try to help people make the most of their time in shelter. Counseling, employment services, and education, are all part of daily shelter life.

9. Project Prevention

It is better for the household, and far less expensive, to help prevent people from losing their homes. Often, for as little as $500, we can keep someone from facing the crisis of homelessness. Prevention served 344 households in 2012.

10. Big Fix

Going into its fourth year, the Big Fix is a community outreach project where we organize volunteers, professionals and staff to help repair homes on one weekend in one town each year. So far, a total of 40 homeowners have been helped in the towns of Barnstable, Sandwich and Dennis by the Big Fix through the work of 469 volunteers! This year, the Big Fix goes to Mashpee on September 28th.

Often those we help are elderly and unable to do many of the daily tasks around their homes.

When you bite into a handful of Reese’s Pieces, a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, a Kiss, or a Mr. Goodbar, think of HAC. Hershey’s is a well loved company but it may just be the case that the work we do at HAC is more important.

Come take a tour of our “making lives better factory” right here in Hyannis. There’s no charge and you may even get a Kiss!

Tags: Energy Assessments, housing assistance corporation, NOAH Shelter, Housing on Cape Cod, MA Rental Voucher Program, Affordable Housing Development on Cape Cod, Cape Community Real Estate

HAC Free Energy Assessments

Posted by Laura Reckford on Thu, May 02, 2013 @ 04:22 PM

Enhanced Residential Program (60% of median income):

  • FREE high efficiency lighting
  • FREE refrigerator replacement (if existing model is inefficient)
  • FREE insulation, air sealing and other weatherization (up to $3,000 in value)
  • Potential heating system upgrade (if existing system is determined to be highly inefficient)

If you currently receive NSTAR’s  Discount Rate and/or household income below 60% of median income, you are eligible for a free home energy assessment, which may include the installation of conservation measures all at no cost. If you would like more information, please call Cape Light Compact at (800) 797-6699.

To determine your income level, please review the 2013 INCOME GUIDELINES.

Your income level and household size may qualify you for a variety of programs including:

  • Fuel assistance
  • Reduced utility rates
  • Free weatherization and energy efficiency services


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To apply for fuel assistance:
South Shore Community Action Council
Call (508) 778-0870, Hyannis office only during the winter months
Call (877) 383-5243, year round office in Plymouth

To inquire about electric discount rates:
Call NSTAR at (800) 566-2080

For help managing past due electric bills:
Call NSTAR at (866) 315-2496 and ask about their new Arrearage Forgiveness Program

To inquire about gas discount rates:
Call National Grid at (800) 532-9600

For more information about energy assistance programs available to Massachusetts residents:
Visit Citizens Energy

Tags: Energy Assessments, Cape Light Compact, housing assistance corporation, Housing on Cape Cod, saving energy, utility bills, Energy Audit

Energy Staff, Contractors Sharpen Their Skills

Posted by Julie Wake on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

Jim Peck of HAC’s Energy and Home Repairs Department and Kevin Shea of Emerson-Swan (a company that makes heating and HVAC equipment) led a training session for HAC energy staffers and contractors last month. About 30 people attended the session, which included basic training on heat-load calculation and a demonstration of hand-held combustion analyzers.
energy training 021313
HAC’s state-certified auditors conduct free energy assessments that help people understand and reduce their energy use. HAC conducts the energy assessments for low-income homeowners and tenants and serves as a Home Performance Contractor to oversee assessments for other homeowners.

HAC performs the assessments and offers incentives on behalf of Cape Light Compact. To sign up, visit HAC’s web site or call Cape Light Compact at 1-800-797-6699.
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In a recent year, HAC’s energy team:
•conducted energy audits on 357 homes to reduce electrical use,
•installed money and energy saving weatherization measures in nearly 325 single family homes,
•weatherized 75 rental units,
•repaired or replaced 649 heating systems, and
•replaced 187 wasteful old refrigerators with Energy Star models

To learn more about HAC’s Energy and Home Repairs Program, call 508-771-5400, ext. 123.

Tags: Energy Assessments, housing assistance corporation, saving energy, Energy Audit

HAC’s Energy Team Completes Federal Contract

Posted by Julie Wake on Sat, Sep 15, 2012 @ 12:20 AM

HAC recently completed three years of federal funding for the energy and repair department’s weatherization program. HAC received $2.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds (AARA). “The goal was to weatherize 405 homes and we did 602,” said Nancy Davison, HAC vice president of program operations. “We were very, very productive.”
energy audit 001 resized 600
“Our skill level is among the best in the state,” said Shad Williams, energy and repair director. “To take on such a huge increase and be able to do the job they did is a testament to our staff’s talent.”

At the same time of the ARRA program, utilities tripled their support of weatherization. “It pushed HAC’s visibility to a higher level as our energy programs became more impactful in the region,” said Davison.

The increased funding from utilities via Cape Light Compact will allow HAC to continue its weatherization efforts post-ARRA. “When you think of the impact this has had on people’s lives, it’s significant,” said Davison. “The majority of the folks we helped are older and alone and don’t have a lot of support. Now their comfort level is improved and they’re not dreading the winter because they know their utility bills will be lower.”

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Contact HAC for a free energy assessment today!

Tags: Energy Assessments, saving energy, utility bills, Energy Audit, Weatherization

Housing Assistance Corporation's Energy Dept. Welcomes New Leadership

Posted by Julie Wake on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 @ 09:35 PM

HAC’s Energy & Repair Department is under new management with the recent arrival of Shad Williams, energy & repair director, and Jim Peck, technical supervisor.

Williams has been interested in energy conservation for the last 30 years and most recently worked with the U.S. Department of Energy in Ohio to bring energy procurement contracts to lower-income, multi-family property owners. “The savings that can be generated are often sufficient to pay for the improvements and still provide a rate of return,” he said.
Jim Peck and Shad Williams
Williams says he was excited when he learned about the opportunity to work at HAC. “I said, wow, I found someone who wants to do this on Cape Cod. I love the sense of community people have here. I feel like I’m no longer swimming upstream.”

He’s looking forward to working with HAC staff and describes as talented and innovative. “I see a lot of great opportunities to build on the legacy of HAC and to find ways to sustain that legacy,” Williams said.

Peck has been involved with energy programs in Maine, New Hampshire and on the North Shore of Massachusetts. At HAC he will assist Williams and provide technical assistance and training to HAC’s energy auditing staff. He came to HAC because “I was singularly taken with the team’s camaraderie and jovial atmosphere while working on providing assistance to others.”
Like Williams, Peck moved to Cape Cod to work for HAC. His family has been in the restaurant business on the coast of Maine for over 100 years. “Restaurants are one of the high-energy users per square foot,” he said. “There are always opportunities to save money.”

Marketing will be part of Peck’s focus. “We need to continually let people know there are opportunities for energy savings,” he said. “I’ve never met a homeowner or business owner where I couldn’t save them 25 percent. Any time you can save money, help the environment and protect our national security, that’s a win-win-win situation in my book.”

You may qualify for a free energy assessment, contact HAC today to see!

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Tags: Energy Assessments, housing assistance corporation, Weatherization