Please read the FAQs for answers to most of your questions.
Background: Free or low-cost energy audits are available through funding from NYSERDA (New York State Energy and Research Development Authority). The program, called Home Performance with Energy Star, will fund homeowner and business energy audits through local energy contractors that employ standards set by the Building Performance Institute. BPI is a nation-wide testing and certification organization that sets various standards for energy contractors and worker training. Besides the free or low-cost audit, NYSERDA will provide either 10% or 50% of the remediation costs, depending on homeowner income. Overall, this New York State-supported program provides substantial support for homeowners and businesses to weatherize and retrofit their homes and buildings, with important benefits in comfort, reduced energy consumption, and lower utility bills. If your income is below a certain level, you are eligible for free remediation.
Energize Warwick (EW) is a long-term campaign by Sustainable Warwick to educate and help Warwick residents and businesses take advantage of this program. EW recognized early on that the audit/remediation program was complicated enough to deter some people from using it and that many people felt they could not sufficiently understand the resulting assessment to make an informed decision. While the homeowner can proceed without using EW, dozens of homeowners have had good results by working with us. Please be advised that we cannot help you unless you contact us, and EW gets no compensation for this work.
The four-step process includes:
- Energy audit application. This energy assessment is free for most homeowners and includes important health and safety checks of your home. You fill out the one-page application form either on-line or download it and mail it to NYSERDA with information about your income category and your choice of local contractor to do the audit and perform the weatherization. During the audit, ideally the homeowner is well informed about the auditing work, pays close attention to what is going on, and asks questions. For both the audit form and a list of contractors for your zip code, see the Home Performance with Energy Star link at the top of this page. Many Orange County BPI-approved contractors may be found here but we recommend choosing one of the five more local ones at our website — or at least someone less than 40 miles away.
- Assessment report. The contractor will provide several packages that list the costs for various upgrade items along with their projected payback periods — how long before the upgrade pays for itself from energy savings. The contractor will explain this report and financial packages to the homeowner. This report is submitted to NYSERDA’s technical people to assure that it meets accepted pricing guidelines for the type of work done. EW will do an independent evaluation of the report at your request.
- Financing Options. On-bill financing allows you to finance energy upgrades through low-interest loans that are added to your utility bill. You could also pay for the upgrades out of pocket or through other methods of financing. Usually the energy savings will cover all of the payments for the work so you have no out of pocket expense. The contractor will provide financial options when the assessment report is delivered.
- Remediation. There is no obligation on the part of the homeowner to have the remediation work done. You could accept the report as valuable information about your house and stop. You could also do some of the work yourself or hire another contractor. However, we don’t recommend that because the contractor who did the audit has detailed information about your house, and it is easier to get the NYSERDA program to cover part of the costs if the contractor who did the audit also does the renovations. Besides, a new contractor may have to redo some or all of the audit, and will likely charge you for it, which could be a few hundred dollars.
The key benefits:
- You get a professional audit for your house or business at no cost.
- Your home is more comfortable — warmer in winter and cooler in summer
- NYSERDA pays for some of the upgrade costs
- Low-interest financing is available and convenient
- You will save energy and money
- You will contribute to an important town-wide energy conservation effort
- You will earn a $200 donation for your favorite local charity (see below)
The payoff for Warwick-area non-profit organizations:
Homeowners who complete the EW program – get the free assessment and then do some of the work listed on the assessment report – will earn $200 donated directly to the non-profit of their choice. Non-profits are actively encouraged to talk up this beneficial program with their members. This benefit will continue until the fund for it runs out. You must let Sustainable Warwick know that you have done the assessment and completed some or all of the work.
Additional features of the EW program
- Access to an “energy advisor/coach” — an independent expert in energy assessments and upgrades, who can answer your questions
- A short-list of Warwick-area contractors who do audits and remediation
- Access to people who have gone through the process with various contractors
- $200 donation to a nonprofit if you have remediation work done
To contact the Energize Warwick Committee:
William Makofske, Energy Coach 845-986-9477
Michael Helme 845-665-1574