Making Your Home Fossil Free

Thinking of upgrading your home to reduce or eliminate your carbon footprint? Below are some federal and state resources to help pay for such improvements.

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Many energy improvements are cost-effective with the energy savings paying back the upfront capital costs within a decade or less. It is a good idea to cost out the various options. A professional energy audit is the best way to prioritize your improvements. Some programs that provide energy audits are included below.

It is important to read the fine details on the various financial incentives, and to check on whether the law has changed recently. Some programs have income or time restrictions; others have a cap on the amount of funds available. Programs listed below are for residential customers.

As a buyers group, we need our members input to keep improving. If you have additional ideas or reactions to the programs listed, let us know. We’ll make sure all of your fellow members learn from your experiences.

Greening the Heating and Cooling of Your Home

Federal Tax Credits for Renewable Energy

This federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit applies to Solar Water Heat; Solar Photovoltaics; Geothermal Heat Pumps; Wind (Small); and, Fuel Cells using Renewable generation.

The value of the credit phases down over time – see link for details (30% presently to 22% by 2021). A taxpayer may claim a credit for qualified expenditures for a system that serves a dwelling unit located in the United States that is owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer.

Solar Power for Your Home

State Subsidies for Renewable Energy

In addition to the 30% federal tax credit above, New York State offers a 25% state tax credit for qualifying renewable energy projects up to $5,000 based on the size of the system. There are also low cost on-bill financing to help spread out the remainder of up front costs.

New York State offers a variety of solar power resources, as well as incentives and financing for homeowners, business owners, and local governments.

Some firms such as Solar City used a model where they pay the upfront costs to install solar panels on the house in exchange for a long-term contract to purchase the electricity. Most companies are now focusing on having the homeowner purchase the unit.

Local Solarize Projects

You can look for a local solarize project organized by a community group with government support, for discounts through their bulk purchasing.

If you do not have enough solar access on your home, you should consider purchasing electricity from a community solar farm. While only a few solar farms are currently operating, scores are in their permit approval process. Visit NY Sun for more information on installing your own vs. community solar.

Affordable Solar, Part of NY-Sun

This program provides additional incentives to help lower the cost of installing solar for low-to moderate-income homeowners. For homeowners with total household income less than 80% of the area or state median income, it doubles the current NY-Sun incentive for solar electric system installations.

Income-eligible electric account holders who own and live in their homes may qualify for Affordable Solar. New York State homeowners may qualify for a discount covering 50% of the cost of eligible energy efficiency improvements up to $4,000 per project for single-family homes. Two- to four-unit residential buildings with income-eligible residents can qualify for a discount of 50% of the cost of eligible energy efficient improvements up to $8,000.

Solar Hot Water Heaters

Solar hot water is a renewable power alternative that relies on the sun’s energy to produce hot water for homes and businesses. It uses roof-mounted solar collectors to heat cold water. When the water is hot enough and ready to use, pipes transport the water back to your hot water tank. To get the process started find a local, State certified installation contractor.

NYSERDA offers incentives for the installation of solar water heating systems for residential customers of the State's major investor-owned utilities. The program is open to customers of investor owned utilities including: Central Hudson Gas & Electric, National Grid, Orange and Rockland Utilities and Rochester Gas and Electric. The systems must generally supplement an electric water heater in order to qualify for the program.

Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps

An air-source heat pump can deliver one-and-a-half to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes. This is possible because a heat pump moves heat rather than converting it from a fuel like combustion heating systems do. Renewable Heat Now offers general information on heat pump technology as well as information on finding available incentives and installers.

New York State’s Air Source Heat Pump Program provides a $500 incentive per installed system for single-family and multi-family residences.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pump (GSHP) systems transfer thermal energy between the ground and a building to heat and cool without any harmful emissions or additional fuel. Through the Ground Source Heat Pump Rebate Initiative, NYSERDA is making $15 million available - up to $15,000 per home.

This initiative will provide funding only to eligible GSHP designers and installers approved by NYSERDA. If you would like to install GSHP in your home or property, NYSERDA encourages you to learn more about ground source heat pumps and look for an approved designer or installer to participate. However, funding is not available directly to building owners or site owners.

Green Energy Retrofits

The Green Jobs – Green New York (GJGNY) Program provides New Yorkers with access to energy assessments, installation services, low interest financing, and pathways to training for various green-collar careers.

GJGNY offers financing through two programs to help residential customers make energy upgrades to their homes:

Energy Efficiency Programs

EmPower New York provides no-cost energy efficiency solutions to income-eligible New Yorkers. Whether you own your home or rent, a participating contractor will be assigned to you to assess if your home would benefit from free energy upgrades such as:

  • Home energy assessment to identify areas of possible energy improvements
  • Tips on how to save energy
  • Installation of high-efficiency lighting
  • Attic and wall insulation
  • Replacement of old, inefficient refrigerators and freezers
  • Water-saving showerheads
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