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At this point, to say that being a Hudson Valley homeowner is a daunting task is tantamount to a bad TV sitcom joke: same old material, and no one is laughing. Yet in the midst of a continually declining housing market, one in which every dime is crucial, there is still good cause to invest. In fact, it’s an exceptionally good cause: Efficient and renewable-energy home improvements are perhaps the wisest place homeowners can put their money right now, and there are an abundance of rebates and incentives. The question is actually not whether to get involved in the process—the options are so expansive that there is almost certainly something to benefit any homeowner—the questions are simply What, Where, and How.
The first pleasant surprise: An excellent place to begin is right on your utility bill. “We’re asking our utilities to transform themselves from companies selling energy to ones that are selling energy efficiency, and that’s exactly what’s happening,” says State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill. Chair of the Assembly’s Energy Committee the past three years, Cahill has worked to make an increasing amount of options easily available directly through Central Hudson.
John Maserjian, Media Relations Director at Central Hudson, enumerates a list of options for both rural and urban customers too long to list; a great place to begin is at Central Hudson’s dedicated website, www.savingscentral.com
. Energy audits—offered in conjunction with NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority)—are a good first step, suggests Maserjian. Free to lower-to-middle-income households, and on a sliding scale beyond that, the audits can help identify the ideal subsidized program. For example, there is $300 in incentives available home air-sealing, an additional $300 to seal leaky ductwork; up to $600 is offered toward upgrading a home central heating system. Still more choices, and significant tax rebates as well, are listed at NYSERDA’s www.getenergysmart.org
Another set of possibilities are available in the realm of modern, renewable energy upgrades—such as photovoltaic solar power, or geothermal heating systems—where up to 70 percent of installation costs can be covered by manufacturers’ rebates and tax incentives. “Not only are you bringing your monthly costs down,” says John Wright, vice president at Hudson Valley Clean Energy (www.hvce.com
), “you’re making your house more valuable, more saleable—as well as protecting the environment.”
Rhinebeck-based HVCE, founded in 2002, will take a Hudson Valley homeowner through the entire process. HVCE provides a complimentary site assessment, proposes the system upgrades that apply best to that particular situation, and then walks the customer through utilizing the finance vehicles that will pay for the work. “These systems pay for themselves,” says Wright. “Honestly, it’s cheaper to do it than not to.”