Boston Building Materials offers winter heating advice

As cold weather settles in, Mission Hill’s Boston Building Resources offers advice and supplies for making homes warmer and more energy-efficient.

The consumer co-op and building supply resale outlet at 100 Terrace St. will hold a “Heating Systems Workshop” on Dec. 7, and has weatherization workshops starting in January.

“People aren’t really paying attention to these things like drafts and insulation, but when the energy bills start coming in around this time of year, they really start to look for solutions,” said BBR spokesperson Deb Beatty Mel.

For homeowners who prefer to fix household problems on their own and save money where they can, Boston Building Resources stands as a resource for anything from  energy-efficient light bulbs to a set of used kitchen cabinets. BBR consists of a consumer co-op and a nonprofit Reuse Center that sells new and recycled building materials, as well as offering workshops.

BBR opened under the name Boston Building Materials Co-Op during the energy crisis in 1978, and it provided insulation materials for its members. Now, it provides new materials for home improvement, especially in kitchen design, windows, doors and green and energy-saving products. Beatty Mel said BBR is especially proud of the kitchen design services that it offers.

“Some kitchen designers are very fancy and unrealistic. You would look at their kitchens and think, ‘Would anyone cook here?’” she said. “Our designers will ask you how you cook and use your kitchen, and will really work a design that fits the way you live and cook.”

Anyone can join the co-op, which provides items for the lowest price possible to its members and also sells to the public.

The Reuse Center, open since 1993, is a charitable nonprofit that accepts donations of new and gently used materials for resale at discounted rates. Members who meet income guidelines are offered additional discounts in the Reuse Center.

Boston Building Resources offers many workshops, taught by home improvement professionals, on the weekends.

“We offer workshops to raise our customers skill and knowledge levels,” said Beatty Mel. “Part of our ethos as a company is not just to make a sale, but to make sure the person really knows what they’re getting, how to install it, and what it’s going to take to make the best use of that product.”

The Dec. 7 home heating workshop will explain to participants how their heating systems work and how to get the most out of them.

For more information about the workshops and BBR, see


Winter weatherization tips

Boston Building Resources has provided several tips on how to best keep your home warm and energy-efficient this winter:

* Prevent heat loss by stopping drafts on doors and windows. A weather-stripping kit can stop drafts on the top and sides of the door, and door sweeps will block drafts at the bottom. Both can be installed easily using a few nails, screws and hand tools.

* For windows, inexpensive solutions include plastic interior storm windows, either temporary or reusable. Gaps around window sashes can be filled with rope caulk, which is easily pressed in place with the fingers and quickly removed in the spring.

* Shorter days mean we turn on the lights more. Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs or compact fluorescents, especially in the lamps or fixtures you use most often. Some excellent prices are available on efficient bulbs right now because of utility subsidies. The newest bulbs use about one-fifth of the energy burned by incandescents, and they also last much longer.

* Save on heat by programming your thermostat to turn the temperature down when you are at work or asleep and to warm up just before you wake or return home. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, contact Renew Boston (617-635-7283 or to schedule a free energy assessment. Renew Boston will install one for you at no charge.

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