Beacon's Conservation Advisory Committee (CAC) is charged with advising the Planning Board and the City Council of Beacon, NY, on matters affecting the preservation, development and use of the natural and manmade features in the City. This week, the CAC is co-sponsoring an event from Energize Beacon, a program to help homeowners make intelligent decisions about home improvements that increase comfort and reduce energy waste, while saving money on utility and heating (fuel oil or propane) bills.
The event is Tuesday, March 28, at 6:30 pm at Scenic Hudson's River Center (aka the Red Barn) next to Long Dock Park, just south of the Metro-North train station. Energize Beacon is funded by a New York State grant and a broader program, Energize NY, which was created in 2011 and recently launched coverage in Beacon. Its purpose is to reduce the carbon footprint of homes and businesses and save people money at the same time. The Energize programs accomplish this by sending Independent Energy Coaches to homes for free assessments of ways to improve the homes' retention of heat and cool air during the appropriate seasons.
To qualify for financing, "savings [from recommended improvements] must outweigh the cost of the energy upgrade work proposed," says Alice Quinn, Energize NY's Residential Director for the Hudson Valley. "Homeowners get a free/reduced-cost comprehensive home energy assessment done by a BPI-certified contractor, who will run a blower door test and check your home for leaks and inefficiencies in your insulation, air sealing, mechanics (like boilers) and health and safety issues. The contractor will provide the homeowner with a report that outlines all of their findings from the assessment and how much it will cost."
From there, says Quinn, financing options may be available through On-Bill Recovery or a Smart Energy Loan. Windows seem to be the first changes to come to people's minds, according to Tom Bregman, a senior consultant with Energize NY, quoted in a Highlands Current article, but windows aren't usually the most efficient replacement - at least to qualify with this program. Quinn agrees: "Windows are tricky; they are expensive to replace and not the best 'bang for your buck' because the R-value of brand new, super 'efficient' windows is still so low that the savings you would get from insulating your attic, for example, is way higher than what you would get from replacing windows." Seems hard to imagine, especially if you live in one of Beacon's 95-year-old homes. (A familiar scene: sitting in front of a window that lets gusts of cold air blow down your neck as you try to relax on the couch.) It might be the right time to take advantage of the true assessments that Energize Beacon is offering, and really find out where your home could be efficiently improved.
If you're ready to make the move on financing, then Energize NY has a list of "home performance contractors" that you can choose from. "We at Energize took that a step further and vetted those who do Home Performance work in the region of the communities we work in and created a list called our Energize Comfort Corps," offers Quinn.