A statewide initiative to promote energy efficiency, cut energy consumption and costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create green jobs is currently being promoted in Sullivan County.
Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Green Jobs-Green New York Program (GJGNY) offers free home energy audits and low interest loans for home improvements to help homeowners save money and improve energy efficiency while increasing the comfort and safety of their homes.
Carol Roig, who is handling community outreach for the Sullivan County Office of Sustainable Energy (OSE), recently presented information on the program at town board meetings in Highland and Lumberland. The OSE assists residents in gaining access to energy efficiency programs available at the state level, including workforce training programs and other partnerships that encourage the development of a skilled green-collar workforce that supports the installation of clean technologies.
The energy audits are performed by contractors accredited by the Building Performance Institute who examine existing conditions and identify areas where improvements can be made. A typical energy audit lasts from one to three hours and involves visual inspection as well as tests using special diagnostic equipment such as a blower door, which measures where air is leaking from the home. Safety tests will also be performed to determine whether major combustion appliances such as furnaces, boilers, hot water tanks and stoves are operating safely.
Home improvements that might be identified include weather stripping; repair or replacement of home heating or cooling systems, water heaters, windows, exterior doors or major appliances; thermostat upgrades; installation of solar thermal heating or hot water systems; insulation; replacement of light bulbs and fixtures and more.
To implement any of the identified improvements, GJGNY can provide financing through low interest loans beginning at 3.49% interest with repayment periods of five, 10 or 15 years. Visit www.energyfi  nancesolutions.com/main/homeowners
nyfour for information.
Work must be completed by contractors participating in NYSERDA’s Home Per formance with Energy Star ™ Program. For a list of local contractors contact 877/NYSMART or visit www.getenergysmart.org/Resources/FindPartner.aspx?t=4 .
The audit is free for homeowners with household incomes less than $115,000. A sliding scale will be used to determine the cost for those with incomes between $115,000 and $172,000. Those with household incomes over $230,000 will be assessed the full cost of the audit.
Qualifying homeowners must fill out an application form (available at www.nyserda.org/GreenNY ) and provide documentation of their NYSEG bill and fuel costs for home heating and hot water.
Assistance with the application is available through the OSE by calling 845/807-0578 or by visiting the office at the Government Center, 100 North Street in Monticello. A help desk is available on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to Roig, Sullivan County is making some even bigger commitments to energy efficiency measures. “Over the next 12 months or so, we’re going to be sharing some information about an initiative to reduce the county’s carbon footprint by 20% by the year 2020,” she said. Roig provided handouts of no-cost or low-cost ways to begin that initiative.