A Locally Grown Energy Upgrade

By Shawn Dell Joyce
Elizabeth and John Capello signed up for the Ten Percent Challenge last summer, and decided to retrofit their historic Walden home with energy efficiency upgrades. The Capellos started off by having a home energy audit performed by the Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP), based in Middletown. The RECAP auditor made several suggestions that would reduce the Capellos’ energy use and utility bills by 10 percent or more this year.

The main suggestion was to reinsulate their attic, insulate the basement and floors, and upgrade the lighting. The Capellos decided to follow through with all the auditor’s suggestions and have RECAP perform the upgrades. A modest investment, and a few months later, the work was done and the savings began to show.

Elizabeth says that her home “feels warmer and more comfortable” with the thicker insulation. John agrees, adding that it’s safer as well since many of the upgrades improved the electrical usage and reduced the heat output of lighting and home heating. Additionally, the Capellos increased the value of their home, and lowered their monthly utility bills.

According to their recent bill from New York State Electric & Gas Co., the Capellos used four fewer kilowatt hours of electricity and three fewer therms of natural gas, much more than the initial 10 percent goal they set for their home by signing up for the Ten Percent Challenge. If you would like to save money and improve your home’s efficiency, you can sign up today, March 8, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Walden Village Hall, 3rd Floor, 1 Municipal Square, Walden.

Bring your past utility bills, or a 12-month summary of electric and heating use for a Home Energy Makeover, and become part of a county-wide effort to reduce energy use (and costs) by 10 percent or more this year.

If you are looking towards renewable energy systems to reduce operating costs, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers significant incentives for solar panels (photovoltaic), small wind and solar thermal systems, and a new program that allows you to finance the efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems through your utility bill. That means the cost of owning a solar hot water system is financed at a very low rate and deducted from the energy savings on your bill. You don’t notice the added expense because it’s financed to be less than the energy savings. Your bill doesn’t increase but your energy efficiency does.

These programs and incentives don’t last long, so come to the Home Energy Makeover to learn how to take advantage of them now. If you have questions, contact Meridith Nierenberg, at Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities, meridith.nierenberg@gmail.com or 845-331-2238, or the Ten Percent Challenge at sites.google.com/site/sustainablemontgomery/ or on facebook/MontgomeryTenPercent.

Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery.

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