Lowering Your Energy Bills Isn’t Just Hot Air

One thing on virtually every homeowner’s wish list is that next year’s energy bills will be lower than in the past year.

Some houses, however, simply take more energy to run. Yet, there are ways to cut your energy bills and still live comfortably. You can, for instance, participate in Home Performance with Energy Star. This national program provides comprehensive home energy assessments, incentives and low-interest loans to help homeowners reduce their energy use and cost.

To underscore the value in participating, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) found that homes that go through the program are averaging a savings of 20 percent in their energy use. On top of that, the homes are more comfortable and healthier to live in.

Joe Morabito was the 50,000th homeowner in New York State to benefit from NYSERDA’s Home Performance with Energy Star program. After living for six years in his 1940s two-story house in Rochester, the family was eager to reduce its energy bills (according to one website, heating bills in upstate New York can total $2,000 for the entire winter season) and fix the hot and cold areas they felt in several rooms.

A contractor performed a whole-house assessment to identify energy improvements the Morabitos’ could make, including adding insulation, air sealing and a programmable thermostat. Since having the work done, the family says it has saved 23 percent on its energy bills, and Morabito says “The house holds the heat in a lot better than it used to.”

The following steps will help you take advantage of the program:

•    Step 1. Find a local participating Home Performance with Energy Star contractor to work with, then apply online or download an application for a comprehensive energy assessment, which is free for most New York homeowners. New York residents can access a list of contractors by zip code and get the application at www.nyserda.ny.gov/comfortable.

•    Step 2. Use the assessment results to develop a plan with your contractor that meet the unique needs of your home, then discuss options for paying for the energy upgrades. New Yorkers can access low-cost financing and pay for the upgrades on their utility bill using their energy savings.

•    Step 3. Once the contractor has finished the energy upgrades, you sign the Certificate of Completion, and you or your lender pays the contractor.

•    Step 4. Receive 10 percent cash-back incentive on eligible energy efficiency measures.

To see how one couple followed the process, watch Irreconcilable Temperatures at www.nyserda.ny.gov/comfortable. This entertaining webisode shows how Wendy and Russell used the program to save not only energy and money, but also their marriage. New York homeowners can also see what’s involved in a home energy assessment on this site, or apply for NYSERDA’s Home Performance with Energy Star Program.

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