Saving Energy Safely

Know what to look out for to keep your home and family safe.
Before completing any home improvements, it’s important to be aware of certain health and safety concerns in regards to your home. Many of these issues must be fixed before air sealing or insulation work can be done. By staying informed, you and your family can have a safe, comfortable, and energy efficient home environment for years to come.


Lead-Based Paint

If your home was built before 1978, and if it is being renovated or repainted, you may be exposed to potentially harmful lead-based paint. All Mass Save participating contractors have state-approved, lead-safe renovator certification to ensure your improvements are made safely.


For information about the health effects of lead exposure, visit:

Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Site
or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323)



Mold grows from excess moisture in your home and can cause respiratory problems and other health issues. Moisture-related issues identified by your Energy Specialist during your home assessment must be corrected before you begin any home improvement work. Issues can include rain water intrusion, ground water intrusion, plumbing leaks, and indoor humidity.


Trace Amounts of Mercury in Thermostats and CFLs

Replacing your old thermostats and light bulbs with programmable or wireless-enabled thermostats and LED light bulbs are easy ways to save energy. That said, some older thermostats and all compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) contain small traces of mercury. You’ll want to be sure to dispose of them properly, as they can present some risk to humans and to the environment.


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Combustion Safety and Carbon Monoxide

During your Home Energy Assessment, a Combustion Safety Test will be completed, which measures your furnace or boiler, water heater, and gas range for the presence of carbon monoxide (CO). This test ensures that your home is properly vented, does not have leaks from gas or oil heating systems, and does not have high carbon monoxide levels. If problems are identified, your Energy Specialist will recommend immediate solutions and next steps to remedy potential combustion hazards.

What is carbon monoxide?
CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. It is found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, gas ranges, and all heating systems. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. While low concentrations of CO are acceptable, higher concentrations can be very harmful. Corrective action should be taken immediately, once identified.

Who is at risk from CO poisoning?
All people and animals are at risk from CO poisoning. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning, more than 4,000 are hospitalized, and more than 20,000 visit the emergency room. Fatality rates are highest among Americans 65 and older.

What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.


To Prevent CO Poisoning in Your Home:
  •  Carbon Monoxide (CO) is called the invisible killer because you can't see it, taste it, or smell it.  Protect yourself and your family by installing CO alarms.
  • Never use a gas oven to heat your home.
  • Have your heating equipment, water heater, and any other fuel-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician (once per year for oil-fired equipment and every two years for gas-fired equipment).
  • Do not use flameless chemical heaters indoors. These rely on gas and can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Ensure that you have working CO detectors in your home.
  • Do not run a generator, vehicle, or other fueled motors in an enclosed space. Even if the garage door is open to the exterior, CO can build up to toxic levels.



Asbestos in homes is usually not a problem unless it is disturbed and releases fibers into the air. If there is evidence of asbestos, your Energy Specialist will take careful precautions not to disturb the material. Asbestos could impact the scope and technical approach to the energy-efficiency installations that Mass Save completes in your home.

Grants are available to mitigate asbestos. Find out more about these grants in our Expanded Heat Loan Offerings.


Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and tube is a form of electrical wiring used in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with a rubber sleeve covering the wires and porcelain knobs to prevent them from touching the wooden components of your home. It is often considered a fire hazard, especially if insulation is blown in around it.

Grants are available to mitigate knob and tube wiring. Find out more about these grants in our Expanded Heat Loan Offerings.