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Save Energy -- Save Money

The following is the seventh in a series of Odessa File columns from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County relating to ongoing CCE educational activities and offerings.

By Phil Cherry,
Community Energy Advisor
and Executive Director

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (otherwise known as NYSERDA) spends millions of dollars each year helping low- and moderate-income families in New York save money on energy bills.

The theory is that if they help New Yorkers save energy, then our state’s overall energy demand will drop and our utility companies won’t have to spend so much money on power plants and transmission lines, ultimately saving money for all of us.

The other benefit is an environmental one. Fewer power plants means less sulfur, nitrogen and mercury in the air, reduced smog and lowered greenhouse gas emissions. That saves us all money in health care costs and the external costs of pollution. Those are real costs, and NYSERDA’s programs can make a difference.

NYSERDA has programs for home energy efficiency upgrades, heating system improvements, solar energy, electric vehicles, and more. They have programs for residential owners, small businesses, commercial establishments, farms and non-profits. You don’t have to be low income to take advantage of these programs, but if you are, much of what they offer is free. However, you can’t just sit back and wait for those benefits to come to you. You have to step up and ask for services.

That’s where Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County (CCESC) comes in.

NYSERDA has contracted with us to help you take advantage of their programs. We can help you decide which program to apply for, help you fill out the application, help you choose a contractor and then help you understand the benefits of saving energy. We can help decide which solar option is best for you, or how to help your business save money on energy costs.

The very first thing every person should do is get an energy audit of his or her home or business. For almost all homeowners and renters in this area the energy audit is free ... totally free -- no strings attached. There is an application process, but it’s not too onerous. The result of that audit will tell you how much energy your home wastes each year and how to reduce those energy losses and save money. Sometimes it’s as simple as some air sealing around plumbing penetrations, or adding some insulation in the attic. Other improvements might be swapping out an old inefficient oil burner for a new pellet stove or adding solar energy to your house.

There are some very attractive solar programs these days that let low-income families take advantage of solar energy and save money -- without ever having solar put on your home. If you qualify for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) or the SNAP program (food stamps), and you are a NYSEG customer, you automatically qualify for free solar energy and a savings on your electric bill! It’s that easy. You just have to ask for the benefit -- and that’s where Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County can help you.

If you live in a municipality that has its own electric utility, like Watkins Glen or Bath, you already enjoy lower electric rates, but you can also take advantage of appliance rebates or other energy saving programs within those municipalities. If you are a small business or nonprofit, NYSERDA will be rolling out programs for you too in the coming months -- programs that can save you money on energy costs. What’s more, NYSEG offers lighting retrofit programs for commercial establishments that can save serious money for business owners.

If you own a farm and are a NYSEG customer, and pay what’s referred to as a System’s Benefits Charge, you too are eligible for a free energy audit and savings on energy efficiency upgrades.

There is an energy saving program for everyone. Check out our web site at and call us at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Schuyler County at (607) 535-7161 or email me at pc526@cornelledu to discuss the possibilities!

Photo in text: Phil Cherry (Photo provided)


For the first column in this series, click here.
For the second column in this series, click here.
For the third column in this series, click here.

For the fourth column in this series, click here.
For the fifth column in this series, click here.
For the sixth column in this series, click here.


© The Odessa File 2019
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869