Mount Kisco enlisted Tuesday in a regional effort to conserve home energy by finding and fixing the myriad ways we waste it.
In becoming the latest member of Energize New York, the village made most residents eligible to obtain free energy-efficiency evaluations of their homes. If they want, homeowners can then address shortcomings with the help of state-subsidized financing.
“If you make your home energy-efficient, you spend less money,” an Energize New York official reminded Mount Kisco’s village board of trustees before its unanimous vote Tuesday.
The chapter will be called Energize Mount Kisco. The Energize program has been under way for two years, sponsored by the Northern Westchester Energy Action Coalition. NWEAC (commonly called en-wee-ack) comprises 14 communities, Mount Kisco among them, seeking energy-conservation and other green solutions. Tom Bregman, director of its home retrofit efforts, estimated that Mount Kisco could see $1.2 million in savings “if we can get one in three people to upgrade their homes and make them more efficient.”
“That’s a considerable amount of money, $1.2 million annually, not sent to the utilities, not sent to an oil company,” Bregman reminded the board. “That’s $1.2 million spent in the local economy.”
He directed residents to the program’s website, www.EnergizeNY.org, for easy signup. “Our services are free to the homeowner,” he said. “We’ve developed an Energize Mount Kisco [web] page. We have an energy coach who provides support.” Energize headquarters, coincidentally, were established in Mount Kisco after James Diamond of Diamond Properties LLC donated a year of office space.
Retrofit representatives will also be on hand this weekend, Bregman said, for the Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Sidewalk Sales Days.”
The Energize program, bankrolled by more than $2.5 million in state and federal grant money, works this way:
- After signing up, online or otherwise, a homeowner asks for a Comprehensive Home Energy Assessment by a state-certified contractor;
- That contractor identifies the ways in which energy escapes and suggests possible solutions;
- If the homeowner chooses to plug all or some of the energy leaks, prices for each suggested correction and its projected savings are drawn;
- The contractor makes the corrections.
To help pay for the home improvements, Energize offers financing as low as 2.99 percent and as convenient as paying a utility bill. Under its On-Bill Financing Program, energy-efficiency upgrades can become a charge on the homeowner’s monthly statement from Con Edison or New York State Electric and Gas. Calculated against projected savings on energy costs, the payment will appear as a separate line item on the customer’s bill and could transfer to a new owner if the house is sold.
“What we are about is removing the barriers to achieving home energy efficiency,” Bregman said.
In his presentation, the program director drew a distinction between efficiency and other approaches to energy. “Energy efficiency is not renewable energy. It’s not solar, or wind,” Bregman said. “It’s not conservation. . . . It’s not turning down your thermostat in the winter, or turning it up in the summer. Its about making your building more efficient so you don’t have to change, and you’ll use less energy.”
The Energize effort began in Bedford two years ago. That program, which looks for cuts of 10 to 40 percent in home energy consumption, is seen as a success. Already, more than 60 homes have completed a retrofit, providing their owners with cash savings as well as a seal and participation certificate, presented by town officials in two formal town hall ceremonies.
In addition to Bedford and Mount Kisco, Energize programs are under way in New Castle, Somers and both the town and village of Ossining. Ultimately, all 14 NWEAC communities are expected to offer Energize opportunities.