Q: What are the benefits of the Energize Program?
Lower utility bills and a safer, more comfortable home are the big benefits of home energy efficiency. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with recommended insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy use for heating and cooling - and reduce environmental emissions - from 20-50%. Energy escapes through hidden holes between walls, and in the basement and attic. You can find out where these holes are and how to close them with a thorough “diagnosis” of your home called a “comprehensive home energy assessment.”
Q: What can I expect during a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment?
Depending on the size and complexity of your home, the assessment will take about three hours to complete. During the assessment, the contractor completes a visual inspection of the living space, attic, basement (or crawl spaces), and performs a number of tests using special diagnostic equipment. This equipment includes a blower door, which helps the contractor measure how much, and where, air is leaking from your home. Just as importantly, your contractor will perform essential health and safety tests to determine whether the major combustion appliances (furnace, boiler, hot water tank and stove) in your home are operating safely, as well as check for mold and the conditions which contribute to its growth. After the assessment, you will receive a report which will provide you valuable information regarding the existing condition of your home, and identify areas where energy efficiency, comfort and safety improvements can be made.
Q: Who performs the “Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment”?
New York State requires the assessment to be performed by an approved, specially trained energy efficiency contractor. You can pick from a list here of these specially trained professionals.
Q: How do I know this assessment is good?
All of the contractors who conduct Home Performance Energy Assessments through NYSERDA’s program are certified by an independent company called the Building Performance Institute (BPI). BPI is a national organization that develops standards for residential energy efficiency retrofit work and provides credentialing to contractors.
PI methodology approaches the “house-as-a-system” and every assessment includes the same scientific, diagnostic tests, regardless of which contractor you choose from the list. Your contractor will do a blower-door test to examine the envelope of the house, look at combustion equipment and heating systems, and also do a thorough health & safety inspection. Find a BPI certified contractor & member of the Energize Comfort Corp
After you have your assessment you can schedule an appointment with our Energy Coach. Read more about the Energy Coach here.
Q: How do I pick a qualified contractor?
The energy efficiency professional who performs the home energy assessment must be specially trained and certified to work in the NYSERDA Home Performance with Energy Star Program. These professionals have several levels of oversight and quality control.
Contractors that are a member of the Energize NY Comfort Corp can be found here. Contractor ratings can be found in the detailed sections of each company profile. The ratings are based off of customer feedback surveys, the number of jobs done in the area, and accreditations. A document of guideline questions to ask the contractors is posted on the left hand side of the page.
Homeowners enjoy an extra level of assurance in making home improvements because they can request a free follow-up quality assurance visit as part of the Home Performance with Energy Star Program. NYSERDA will assign a third party overseer to check that work done in your home was completed correctly; should they find any problems NYSERDA requires that the contractors remediate them.
Q: What kind of changes might be recommended?
Typically, here in the Northeast, most homes benefit from improved insulation, air sealing, weather stripping, and caulking. Less frequently, you may need to repair or replace outdated heating or cooling systems. Your assessment will identify the specific energy efficiency opportunities in your home and give you information that will help you decide what makes sense for you like the how long each measure will take to pay for itself.
Q: I have questions about my assessment and what it recommends. Whom should I contact?
The Energy Coach is a free resource that EnergizeNY provides to homeowners who seek technical advice about making energy efficient upgrades. The Energy Coach does not work for any local contracting company. He has multiple certifications from the Building Performance Institute in various building science topics, as well as extensive experience with home energy upgrades. The Energy Coach will answer technical questions about the assessment, review your contractor's recommendations and discuss incentives, subsidies and financing options.
The Energy Coach is available to meet with you at the EnergizeNY office in Yorktown Heights, or at your home through a scheduled appointment. EnergizeNY will inform your contractor when you have scheduled an appointment with the Energy Coach, and extend an invitation for the contractor to join the meeting. If you would prefer to meet one-‐on-‐one with the Energy Coach, please let us know. To request an Energy Coach visit call the Energize office 914-302-7300 or email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: What are options for financing energy improvements?
New York State has an innovative way for homeowners to pay for their improvements through energy savings! Read the full details about On Bill Financing and Smart Energy Loans here.
The home energy efficiency upgrades you make must have an SIR (Savings to Investment Ratio) of 1 or greater. In other words, the work must be shown to make the home more energy efficient to be eligible for this financing.
Q: Are there incentives to help pay for energy efficiency improvements
Income qualified homeowners making energy efficiency improvements through the Home Performance program can qualify for up to 50% subsidy. See this page on financing, incentives and subsidies.
Q: How do I know that I’ll save the amount (projected savings) the contractor says?
All of the details in the report have to be approved by NYSERDA, before it is shown to you. The contractor takes the measurements from your home energy assessment, runs the data through a modeling software that calculates payments and return-on-investment, and then submits it to NYSERDA for approval. They can only present these numbers to you once a third party overseer has validated them.
Q: How can I get a competitive bid?
The contractors need to quote an accurate price to remain competitive in the market. When your contractor did the home assessment he got to know your home, and understand how it functions. His recommendations are based upon his findings. If you would like to have the work done by another contractor, it is best to start from the beginning and get another energy assessment from that contractor.
You can get another quote, but make sure you are asking another BPI certified Home Performance contractor. Some contractors may require you get another assessment, which you must pay for, before quoting any prices.
It is not a good idea for a contractor to implement work based on someone else’s report without being familiar with your home. A dentist would not start drilling based on x-rays taken 3 months ago from a different dentist.
Q: Can I do part of the work now and part next year? If so, what does that require?
The assessment report your contractor provided to you is valid for one year, so you can take up to 12 months to implement any suggested measures in that report. That means you can implement some of the improvements now, and some more in 6 months, and even more another 5 months down the line.
If you wait for more than one year, you will need to have a new energy assessment performed on your home. The free/low-cost assessment offer is only valid once per property, so if you need to have another assessment it will be an out-of-pocket cost. It is best to complete all of the measures within one year, if possible.
Q: I am not planning on staying in my home 9 years, is this a worthwhile project for me?
Yes! You will benefit from increased comfort immediately. You will have lower utility bills. It will increase the re-sale value of your home. When buying a home, it is common for house-hunters to ask to see utility bills, and ask about the energy efficiency of the home. Additionally, if you chose to take out an On Bill Financing Loan, it can be transferred to the new homeowner.
Q: 9 years seems like a very long payback time just for insulation.
Insulation will last 30 years or more, the payback period is not that high in relation to the life of the product. By comparison, windows have a payback period of 45 years, so that’s why NYSERDA doesn’t approve financing for that kind of installation. Comfort is also a big factor, you will start benefiting from a more comfortable living space, starting immediately.
Your home is probably your largest source of wealth, and it’s important to maintain, uphold and invest wisely in your home’s value. You can also pick and choose which energy upgrade items you want to have done in your home, based on payback period.
Q: How can I include lighting and appliances in my report?
The contractors will focus on larger issues, such as heating and ventilation, building envelope, insulation, and health and safety. If you would like to upgrade appliances or lighting, please discuss it with your contractor, and they will work the upgrades into your home renovation package if it makes sense to do so.
Q: How long does the work typically take?
Energy improvement measures usually take between 2 – 4 days to complete and usually are not invasive to family life. Most work takes place between the walls of your home, in the basement and in the attic.
Q: Why do I need a “Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment”?
The Assessment offered by New York State is considered the “gold standard” in home energy evaluations. It’s the only way to get a full and detailed report of ALL your energy efficiency upgrade options. A Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment provides important health and safety checks (carbon monoxide back drafting, mold detection, etc) that is often not included in more basic home audit. Finally, with a comprehensive home energy assessment you have the option to get a free Quality Assurance visit to make sure all the energy efficiency upgrade work was done correctly.