Q. What is a Home Energy Assessment:
A. A Home Energy Assessment (also known as an audit) is a comprehensive look at the energy efficiency of your home. The auditor will look at potential issues within your home, such as: airsealing, insulation, air exchange, and appliance mechanicals. All of these areas can cause your home to lose energy, which can cost you more money on utility expenses.
Q. How long does it take to perform a Home Energy Assessment?
A. The length of time it takes to do your Home Energy Assessment varies from house to house. The size of the home, and the condition, can both affect the amount of time it takes to complete your assessment. Generally, a Home Energy Assessment takes about 2 hours to perform.
Q. What if the Home Energy Assessment shows that I do not need any insulation work?
A. This does happen from time to time. If we find that the home is not in need of energy efficiency upgrades, then the audit is the only step you need to take. More often than not, we find areas of the home that were overlooked during the building of the house, or any previous work that may have been done, and we will recommend ways to fix them.
Q. Do I have to be present for the Home Energy Assessment to be done?
A. We generally recommend that you are present. However, we do understand that our customers can't always get time off of work. In the event that you cannot be present for the audit, we recommend that you try to send someone in your place. The audit appointment is an excellent opportunity to ask questions about your house, or to get clarity on potential issues.
Q. What if I am unsure about pre-existing wall insulation?
A. It is ok if you are unsure on if your home has existing insulation in the walls. While the auditor is performing your energy assessment, there are a variety of ways to see if there is pre-existing insulation. The main way we check for wall insulation is to drill a small hole and put a camera in to the wall. For houses that do not have clapboard, aluminum, or asbestos tile siding, our auditor will carefully remove a piece of siding, use a small drill to bore a hole, and will insert a special camera inside to check for existing insulation. If the exterior of the house is sided in clapboard, aluminum, or asbestos tiles, the same process is used to check the walls fro inside, in an inconspicuous spot (such as in a closet, or behind the refrigerator). For older houses, this method can help tell us not only if there is existing insulation, but it can help us determine exactly what kind of insulation you have. Another method we use is to do testing is with an Infrared camera, but this is weather sensitive, as there needs to be at least a 15 degree difference between the interior and exterior of the house. Images using the IR can help to tell us if there is existing insulation, or if the existing insulation has settled and left a gap.
Q. Is there a "catch" to EmPower, and how much will I actually owe?
A. There is no "catch" to this grant. State residents meeting EmPower New York eligibility requirements can receive home energy services through the program at no cost. The program is funded through a “System Benefits Charge” included in the bills of participating electric and natural gas utilities. This means that everyone who is a customer of a participating utility is chipping in to pay for this program. Additional funding is provided from other sources as well, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which provides funding for energy efficiency upgrades to lower carbon emissions. Eligibility is income-based, and you can find the requirements, along with the application here.
Q. Can NYSERDA help me replace my windows, or my roof?
A. Unfortunately, NYSERDA does not provide help for roofing or window replacement. However, there are other grants and programs that can help with these upgrades. Your local county's Weatherization Assistance Program can help you with window repair. More information for Broome & Tioga County's Weatherization Assistance Program can be found here. For roofing repairs or replacement, the options are a little more limited, but there is still help available. For persons meeting the eligibility requirements, the USDA can help. All of their eligibility guidelines can be found in the following link.
Q. What is the turnaround time if I end up being qualified for a grant program?
A. This varies from customer to customer. To help the process go faster, a member of our team will send you an application for the grants when your audit intake phone call is performed. Essentially, we like to have our customers either approved, or going through the approval process before the auditor comes out to perform your assessment. This helps us to move the job along after your assessment is completed. Once your assessment has been done, your upgrade recommendations are then sent in to NYSERDA for review and approval. Assuming there are no changes to be made, approval generally takes 1-2 weeks. Once we have the approval for your job, all that's left to do is schedule your work, and get you on your way to a more energy efficient house!