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Home Performance Grants

Monday, March 7th, 2016 by Ben Kershner


NYSERDA LogoNYSERDA is the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. They oversee the implementation of the various incentive programs that are available to homeowners and renters in New York.  The first thing to keep in mind is that some of these grants are income-dependant, and some are not. I’ll start at the top: Here are the programs that anyone can qualify for.

HEMI: The High Efficiency Measure Incentive.
  • What you get: This is a 10% cash-back program. It pays you real money in the form of a check that arrives after the work is completed.
  • What it covers: furnaces, boilers, water heaters, insulation, air-sealing, LEDs and more.
  • What you need:
    1. sign a proposal with your favorite contractor that says, “pending NYSERDA approval” to have the work done.
    2. fill out a “Customer Info Form”
    3. once the work-scope is approved, sign an “Incentive Eligibility Summary”
    4. wait for the check to arrive in the mail

Another program available from the state is low-interest financing. This is a great way to make a large project more affordable, and to start getting the benefits right away. The best part: the savings from your project will partially offset the payments.

SEL: Smart Energy Loan
  • What you get: Finance your project for 5 to 15 years at 3.49%.
  • What it covers: furnaces, boilers, water heaters, insulation, air-sealing, LEDs, windows, doors, gas-leak repair, dryer-vent repair, bath fans, attic vents, HRVs, ERVs, and more.
  • What you need:
    1. sign a proposal with your favorite contractor that says, “pending NYSERDA approval” to have the work done.
    2. fill out an application to get pre-qualified
    3. include proof of income, such as last-year’s tax return
    4. include a voided check for auto-debit. (or select 3.99% interest)
    5. once the work-scope is approved, sign the official loan documents
    6. the first payment is due after the work is completed

If HEMI and financing is all you qualify for, don’t despair – they’re both great programs. However, for lower income families making up to 80% of the average family in their area, is a program sponsored by ENERY STAR. In Monroe County, that means a family of three would qualify if they make less than $56,704 before taxes in 2016.

AHP:Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR
  • What you get: a “matching funds” $5000 grant. In other words, you can get up to $5,000 for a $10,000 project, or $2,000 for a $4,000 project.
  • What it covers: furnaces, boilers, water heaters, insulation, air-sealing, LEDs and more.
  • What you need:
    1. sign a proposal with your favorite contractor that says, “pending NYSERDA approval” to have the work done.
    2. fill out an application to get pre-qualified
    3. include proof of income, such as last-year’s tax return
    4. include your most recent gas bill.
    5. Only pay for half your project.

For families who fall below 60% of the area median income, or who qualify for HEAP (Heating Assistance), there’s the EmPower NY program, which will pay for 100% of the cost of projects that will have a significant effect on reducing your energy bills. That means free insulation, free light bulbs, and more if you qualify, even if you rent your home.

EmPower: The EmPower New York program
  • What you get: 100% of project costs up to $7000
  • What it covers: Empower covers the projects which have the greatest effect on your heating and energy bills. This is usually light bulbs and insulation, but in some cases can include a new refrigerator, or other energy-saving measures.
  • What you need:
    1. If you filled out the application for the Assisted Home Performance grant, you are automatically entered into EmPower if you qualify.
    2. If you rent your home, your landlord will need to provide proof of ownership.

Many people will combine these programs into one big project – What EmPower can’t cover, run through AHP. What AHP can’t cover, finance at 3.49 for 15 years.

These grants are all funded by money that you’ve paid out over the years, so sign up and get your money back! These programs do change, so talk to your Home Energy Expert when you get your free assessment.

About the author

Ben Kershner

Ben Kershner is a home energy advisor at True Energy Solutions, and is a regular contributor to our website. He lives with his wife and family in Greece, NY.

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