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Bedford, New York

Energize New York

Location: Northern Westchester County and expanding to the 7-county Mid-Hudson region
Seed Funding: $1.26 million
Target Building Type: Residential (single and multifamily)
Website: www.energizeny.org
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View Presentations: 
Energy Efficiency in Your Community: Boosting Demand and Expanding Retrofit Programs March 24, 2011

Westchester County, New York, Motivates Homeowners With Knowledge, Community Support, and Tools

In 2007, Bedford, New York, committed to reducing the town's greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020. A local group of committed citizens, actively supported by town officials, produced a Climate Action Plan (CAP) that underscored the town's commitment to sustainability. However, even with this level of commitment, many homeowners were not making energy improvements to their homes due a lack of good information on existing state programs, questions of trust regarding outcomes, and inadequate financing mechanisms, among other barriers.

With $1.26 million in direct seed funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, and a $1.26 million sub-grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Bedford and 13 other Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium (NWEAC) communities are meeting the challenge of making homes more energy efficient. As of March 31, 2012, Energize had launched in four NWEAC municipalities and planned to expand to eight communities by the end of June 2012.

Driving Demand: Friendly Competition Motivates Supporters and Benefits Groups
Financing: Low-Cost Financing Helps Sweeten the Deal
Workforce Development: Building Jobs for Qualified Experts

Friendly Competition Motivates Supporters and Benefits Groups

As a way to motivate homeowner participation, the program has partnered with the Bedford 2020 Coalition in the Energize Community Challenge (ECC), an innovative way to get local community groups and institutions to help champion energy efficiency among their members and supporters. The Challenge aims to increase uptake of home energy assessments and upgrades by awarding points for each action. Homeowners then assign their points to a favorite participating organization, and the top scoring groups earn funding that can be used toward an internal sustainability project.

Local groups such as the Bedford Garden Club, Katonah Village Library, Rusticus Garden Club, and Bedford Free Library have already sponsored community meetings, during which Energize staff explained the benefits of home energy efficiency measures. As the program expands throughout NWEAC, the Energize staff continues to forge relationships and make presentations to local organizations (e.g., Lion's Club chapters, Chambers of Commerce, Conservation Advisory Councils, school districts, and Parent Teacher Associations) to educate sponsors and partners.

Low-Cost Financing Helps Sweeten the Deal

Homeowners can take advantage of NYSERDA free or subsidized comprehensive energy assessments that identify specific measures that will help save money and make their homes more comfortable. They are also eligible for up to $25,000 in low-cost financing through Green Jobs Green New York (which offers on-bill repayment) to fund energy-saving measures, including air sealing, insulation, duct repair and sealing, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment upgrades. Window replacements, lighting and appliance upgrades, and improved mechanical operations may also be covered. Once the work is completed, the state also provides homeowners a 10% rebate off the total cost of the work. In cooperation with NYSERDA, the Energize program provides a free quality assurance follow-up to ensure the improvements are working as advertised.

In addition to providing financing options, the program also offers homeowners the services of an "Energy Coach" to serve as an expert and source for building science knowledge. Homeowners who join the program can get one-on-one support and advice on all aspects of the process. A special feature on the Energize website allows residents to "Ask the Energy Coach" and pose questions specific to their homes and circumstances.

Building Jobs for Qualified Experts

Energize New York is tapping into an existing, nationally recognized energy efficiency program sponsored by NYSERDA. The program is driving demand for residential energy efficiency upgrade work performed exclusively by a network of Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified and state accredited contractors. This level of expertise, training, and certification increases consumer confidence in the work and helps to remove yet another barrier to adoption.

Contact

Tom Bregman
tom@energizeny.org
914-864-3749 (office)
845-300-2877 (cell)

U.S. Department of Energy
Better Buildings Neighborhood Program
BetterBuildings@ee.doe.gov