Winter heating bill “sticker shock” may nudge homeowners

May 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

    No cost or low cost energy assessments available

    BY KATHY KAHN

    The money is there, but it’s up to you to follow through when it comes to New York’s Energy Research Development Authority—better known by its acronym, NYSERDA.

    With prices rising for electricity and natural gas, isn’t it worth the trouble to check out what kind of energy improvements you can make to your home or business through the grants, low-or-zero interest rate products (such as solar panels, heat pumps, Energy Star ® appliances) and other energy-saving tips, products and services available to you?

    For homeowners on a fixed income, NYSERDA has free grants that will send a NYSERDA-certified contractor to your home to determine how you can save some dollars—makes sense, doesn’t it?

    If you’re one of the thousands who’s seen their income reduced either through attrition or downsizing—or “aging” out of the job market-don’t feel your “good as new” home isn’t eligible. NYSERDA’s Energy Star Program is based on income, and the value of your home isn’t considered—it’s you income that matters—and many people who are eligible aren’t taking advantage of the funds allocated to NYSERDA to make your home more energy-efficient.

    Blown-in insulation in your attic, weather sealing your basement and attached garage, installing an energy-efficient monitor on your oil/gas burner, a new thermostat to replace that 20-year old model—are just a few of the many energy-saving practices a NYSERDA-certified inspector can recommend– can save you money and reduce the burden on the grid. For many of these cost-saving incentives, the prize is zero dollars. For other energy-efficient improvements, there is a low-or-no interest loan to help, and the cost to repay it is built in to your current OR or Con Ed bill—hopefully making it less painful and more profitable for you.

    You don’t have to be “income-qualified” to receive help from NYSERDA, either.

    “I lost my full-time job two years ago,” said one NYSERDA customer, who applied for the free energy assessment. “I felt a bit awkward when the contractor came in and saw what a nice house I had…but you can’t eat a house or pay your bills with it. They were wonderful and did an excellent job. All told, the improvements they made to my home were in the range of $4,000, and it didn’t cost me a cent. NYSERDA inspectors follow up to make sure the contractors got the job done. I can’t imagine anyone not looking into it, even if it is low-cost for them—it saves money and energy. We all benefit.”

    Businesses benefit from an energy assessment from NYSERDA as well and receive recommendations on how to use energy more effectively and apply for programs to reduce energy consumption.

    All around, it’s a win-win for customers and the “grid,” but like Lotto, you have to be in it to win it. Visit www.nyserda.ny.gov and see what incentives are out there. It’s just a mouse-click away.

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