Increasing Access to Clean Energy & Efficiency
Funding and Support Are Available for Income-Eligible New Yorkers
New York’s clean energy transition is spurring local job growth, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating healthier communities. Ensuring these benefits are realized by all New Yorkers is fundamental to the State’s climate goals and building an inclusive clean energy economy.
While the cost of clean energy continues to decline, the upfront cost of installing solar panels or insulating a home can be a barrier for many low-to-moderate income (LMI) households. Yet, LMI New Yorkers have the most to gain in terms of cost savings and home comfort from investments in renewable energy sources and efficiency.
To overcome these barriers, New York State is making direct investments to increase LMI customers’ access to cost-saving renewables and efficiency upgrades. These efforts are complemented by programs addressing energy affordability and hands-on support to navigate the process and get tailored solutions.
Creating Safer, Healthier, and More Efficient Homes
A more efficient home starts with a no-cost energy assessment to pinpoint inefficiencies, identify underlying issues, and prioritize energy upgrades.
Making efficiency upgrades like air sealing and insulation can help cut energy costs while improving air quality and creating comfier living spaces. There are multiple programs helping LMI New Yorkers make energy-saving upgrades to their homes.
Through NYSERDA’s EmPower+ program, income-eligible renters and homeowners can receive discounts and funding to make energy efficiency improvements. Eligible improvements include air sealing to reduce drafts, replacement of inefficient refrigerators, health and safety issues, and insulation in the attic, walls, or mobile home underbelly.
Low-interest residential financing is available through EmPower+ to cover additional efficiency upgrades and clean energy investments. Homes with sufficient sealing and insulation can capitalize on their efficiency gains by investing in clean energy technologies like cold-climate heat pumps for added savings and an emission-free home.
Additionally, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provides funding for New Yorkers (both renters and homeowners) to make home improvements that reduce their energy use and boost comfort. This includes air sealing, insulation, repairing or replacing heating systems, windows, and doors, and mitigating related health and safety issues. New Yorkers who receive Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefits are automatically eligible for WAP services.
Advancing Energy Affordability
Energy costs for the average New York household amount to 3.4% of their income, versus nearly 13% for low-income households. In addition to efficiency upgrades, New York State offers several programs focused on reducing home energy costs for LMI households.
The NYS Energy Affordability Program provides utility customers with discounts on their electric and gas bills to keep the cost at or below 6% of household income. Participating customers are automatically enrolled in budget billing, which creates equal monthly payments to help manage utility cost fluctuations throughout the year.
NYSERDA’s Solar for All program delivers electric utility bill savings for LMI homeowners and renters via renewable energy generated on community solar farms. Customers receive credits on their monthly electric bill, amounting to a $5-15 discount on average, for the clean energy produced on their behalf. There are no upfront costs to join, and customers can cancel anytime without penalty.
Applications for HEAP benefits, which provides funding to cover home heating and cooling expenses, opened on November 1 for the 2023-2024 program year.
Emergency HEAP benefits are scheduled to be available starting January 2, 2024, to help customers facing electricity or gas shut-offs, as well as dwindling supplies of deliverable heat sources like fuel oil or wood.
Income-eligible New Yorkers and affordable housing owners can get a customized list of energy-related assistance they qualify for from New York Energy Advisor by answering a few questions.
Support Navigating Programs and Incentives
With multiple home energy assistance programs available, getting help understanding options and other incentives, such as utility rebates or Inflation Reduction Act tax credits, is key. In addition to NY Energy Advisor and NYSERDA’s Home Energy Efficiency Program tool, New Yorkers can get hands-on support from their Regional Clean Energy Hub.
From historic villages to urban centers, and the Atlantic Coast to the Adirondack Mountains, New York is home to diverse communities and regions. That’s why Regional Clean Energy Hubs, teams of community-based organizations with local knowledge and energy expertise, are on hand to walk New Yorkers through the options available to them, from start to finish.
Each Regional Clean Energy Hub is actively building partnerships among clean energy companies, service providers, and other organizations to make energy-related services and assistance more accessible in their respective regions.
If your home has issues that need to be addressed before making efficiency upgrades or installing equipment, a Clean Energy Hub can help find funding and services to move the project forward.
For more on energy savings and assistance, or to read the entire article, click here.