ice_on_north_south_lake (1)This is the year to remedy the cold spots in your home, lower your fuel bills and reclaim your interior real estate from Winter.

Let the State of New York help you with funding for services from qualified energy efficiency professionals.  These professionals will help you make a punch list of actions you can take to make your home more comfortable. You can use this information to do it yourself or you can choose to take advantage of low cost and creative loans with no up front cost to pay for upgrades.

Sounds great?  It is. However you’ll have to do some important thinking to actually save money.

We’ve been through the process of leveraging government incentives, finding and hiring contractors, repairing our leaky, uninsulated, and perfectly average, energy inefficient home and can help you negotiate the potential pitfalls.

Here’s how to start:

Get a Free Energy Audit for your home

Fill out the very simple application from NYSERDA and send them a copy of your energy bill.

Once NYSERDA checks over your application they will send you an authorization code number. You’ll need this number to hire your energy audit contractor. Once you have an authorization number you’ll select a contractor and arrange for an audit.

This is the most important part of the process and where due diligence is essential.

The contractor you select to do the audit will almost surely be the contractor that will do any incentive qualifing energy upgrades. Even though you are free to hire anyone from a list of contractors provided by NYSERDA to qualify it is extremely challenging to get one contractor to agree to do work based on another contractor’s energy audit. Why? Because the contractor who does the work has to prove at the end of the installation that your home is more efficient. They have to provide measurements of things like reduced air flow to show that the work they did is really going to save you money.  This requirement protects you and it also makes due diligence in the first step of the process, selecting a contractor, critical. (Contractors are loath to use someone else’s measurements when quoting a project.)

There are lots of well intentioned contractors training in energy saving business, lots of BPI Certified folks, some are dynamite and you will be thrilled to work with them, and some will disappoint you.

We’ve had 3 energy audits done on our home and ended up with 3 sets of audit results. Remedies for the cold ranged from replace a few windows to $23,000 worth of whole house sealing and insulating work. The great administrators at NYSERDA, the public private partnership that oversees this process, pared down the work proposed by our chosen contractor. They wanted to be sure we would find it easy to repay our “On Bill Financing” loan with energy costs we could reasonably expect to save. When you contact a contractor through the NYSERDA list the contractor is in essence gaining a business lead.  NYSERDA doesn’t guarantee the contractor’s work.

It is so important that you question and compare free energy audit contractors supplied by NYSERDA before you agree to let them conduct the Free Energy Audit.

Questions to ask a contractor.

Interview script for references

Get every detail in writing. (What brand-model of window, exact timeline, and prevailing wage questions for instance!) The more specific the better.

Keep all negotiations in writing. 

Once you’ve carefully selected you contractor and your audit’s complete you’ll qualify for NYSERDA’s On Bill Recovery program. Leverage their 3.49 % loan (This loan travels with the house and is amortized to equal your projected energy savings and is paid on your utility bill!)  to get your energy efficient upgrades done with no out of pocket expenses! Or you can take what you’ve learned and do the work yourself or do nothing more if you like.

NYSERDA’s “On Bill Recovery” program also includes PV Solar arrays!  This means for no money down you can energy retrofit your home and produce your own power with solar.  Do these upgrades in tandem this summer and you’ll have the most energy efficient self powering home on the block.

This time next year you’ll be laughing at the weather and your tiny energy bill!

Business, Non-profit, Faith Based building?

Get a free or (very cheap) Energy Audit