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Earth Matters

Earth Matters: Green Ways to Reduce Energy Bill This Winter

Earth Matters focuses on conservation, sustainability, recycling and healthy living. 

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by Steven Cea

New York State has embarked on an ambitious goal under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act: to achieve 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040. Achieving this goal will require a variety of strategies to educate and incentivize organizations and individuals to switch to renewable energy sources.  

New York has deployed a myriad of programs to help identify and fund needed energy efficiency improvements. It can be hard to identify, navigate, and apply for the program(s) that meet your needs. To address this issue, Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County (CCEDC) has trained a group of volunteer Energy Navigators to help explain these programs.

Navigators: Here For Tips, Supplies, and Info

The Navigators are concerned and capable residents who help their friends, neighbors, and other community members learn about how these programs can help reduce costs and carbon footprint. Each Energy Navigator Volunteer has completed an in-depth, 10-week training program that’s helped them understand how to improve energy efficiency and qualify for the array of incentives New York State offers. The state incentives can reduce your energy bill and improve the health and safety of your living space. Navigators will help you understand your energy consumption, lower your energy usage and bills, and switch from fossil fuels to renewables.  

Learn More

You can learn more about these programs by attending a Zoom workshop presented through the Nyack Library on Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 7p. Register on the library events calendar. Alternatively, contact Steven Cea, Energy Navigator Volunteer, at scea2014@gmail.com

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Navigators can conduct physical or virtual walkthroughs to identify weatherization improvement projects and demonstrate solutions to seal and insulate living space. They can provide sample LED bulbs, which generate the same light as incandescent at a fraction of the cost. And they can supply samples of other do-it-yourself energy efficiency supplies. Additionally, Navigators can explain heating options, appliance selection, solar, and transportation alternatives.

These volunteers are not paid and don’t receive any commission. They are motivated to reduce energy consumption, save you money, improve your comfort, and address climate change. 

Incentive Programs

State home improvement and energy reduction programs are free or subsidized for qualified renters and homeowners. The programs start with a home energy assessment, or energy audit, conducted by experienced home performance professionals. The assessments identify ways to seal and insulate your home or apartment. The assessment provides you with a look at where your home is wasting energy. You will learn the root cause of any drafts, inconsistent temperatures, heating and cooling system failures, or other energy related problems you may be experiencing. The incentives are divided into 3 tiers based on the household’s annual gross income.

Tier 1 Incentives

If your gross income falls below the amounts in this table, based on the number of people in your household, you can qualify for the tier one incentives. Alternatively, you are eligible if you have an award letter from SNAP, TANF, HEAP, and/or Supplemental Security Income.

Household Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Annual Gross Income 29,928 39,144 48,360 57,564 66,780 75,984 78,020

EmPower New York: Provides income-eligible homeowners and renters no-cost energy efficiency solutions.

  • Eligibility: Own or rent single-family home or multifamily with 100 or fewer units & pay your own utility bill.
  • Benefits: 100% paid home energy assessment, installation of high-efficiency lighting, attic and wall insulation, replacement of old refrigerators, water saving showerheads, and $180 solar energy credit.

Weatherization Assessment Program: Assists income-eligible homeowners and renters by reducing heating and cooling costs through energy-conservation measures, while also addressing health and safety issues.

  • Eligibility: Own or rent single-family home or multifamily with 100 or fewer units. Participants are not required to pay their own utility bills.
  • Benefits: 100% paid home energy assessment, installation of high-efficiency lighting, attic and wall insulation, heating system repairs, window or furnace replacements, mitigation of energy-related health and safety hazards, and $180 solar energy credit.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP): Helps pay the cost of home heating.

  • Eligibility: Own or rent single-family home or multifamily with 100 or fewer units & pay your own utility bill.  Heat your home or apartment with natural gas, electricity, oil, coal, propane, wood, or kerosene.
  • Benefits: Direct payment of heating bill based on actual usage, primary heating source, age of household members, and living situation. Annual benefits range from $21 – $675.

Solar for All: A free utility assistance program to allow eligible New Yorkers get the benefits of clean energy while lowering their energy costs.

  • Eligibility: Own or rent your home or multifamily with 100 or fewer units & pay your own utility bill.  
  • Benefits: Save up to $180 annually on your utility bill.

Tier 2 Incentives

If your gross income is below these amounts based on the number of people in your household, you can qualify for Assisted Home Performance. The gross income levels were increased due to Covid-19 and will drop down if application is not submitted before January 1, 2021.

Household Size 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Annual Gross Income, 12/31 89,625 102,450 115,275 128,025 138,300 151,968 158,775
Annual Gross Income, 1/1/21 59,750 68,300 76,850 85,350 92,200 101,312 105,850

Assisted Home Performance: Helps income-eligible homeowners lower their energy bills and live more comfortably all year long.

  • Eligibility: Own or rent single-family home or multifamily with up to 4 units.  
  • Benefits: 100% paid home energy assessment.  Use the home energy assessment to determine if the improvements are worth the investment.  Discount covering 50% of the cost of eligible energy efficiency improvements up to $5,000 per project for single-family homes, and $10,000 for two- to four-unit residential homes.  Low interest financing is available for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvement projects.

Tier 3 Incentives

If your income is greater than those listed in tier two, you can qualify for these programs.

Residential Energy Audit: Market rate program to help assess home energy efficiency, and finance needed improvements.

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  • Eligibility: Own or rent single-family home or multifamily with up to 4 units.  
  • Benefits: Free standard home energy assessment. It is highly recommended to include a blower door test, which may come at a cost. Use the home energy assessment to determine if the improvements are worth the investment. Low interest financing is available for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvement projects.

Comfort Home Program: Rockland County is part of this pilot program to provide seal and insulate packages at a reduced cost.

  • Eligibility: Own or rent single-family home or multifamily with up to 4 units.  
  • Benefits: No-fee consultation. Incentives from $500 to $4,000 for installation of seal and insulate packages.

Orange & Rockland Incentives: O&R provides a variety of financial incentives such as heat pumps installation ranging from $500 for each outdoor condenser unit installed to $2,000 per 10,000 BTU of ground source heating capacity. O&R also offers discounts for smart thermostats and LED bulbs.  Also get cash for recycling your appliances. 

Electric Vehicle (EV) Incentives: New York provides a tax credit of $2,000 for the purchase of a plug-in electric vehicle. The federal government also has a tax credit of up to $7,500 for all-electric and plug-in vehicles depending on the range and number of cars sold. See Fueleconomy.gov for a list of car models that qualify.

Take Advantage!

Many of these clean energy programs have been funded by the System Benefits Charge (SBC) fee on your utility bill. You therefore have contributed to the funding for these programs.  Please take advantage of the programs you have helped to create. Reach out to an Energy Navigator to help ensure that you receive all the benefits of these programs.

See Also:

Steve Cea is an Energy Navigator Volunteer in Rockland County. To learn more, complete this Consultation Form.




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