More homes to cut energy costs

The director of a money-saving program serving Fulton and Montgomery counties is hoping to double th

The director of a money-saving program serving Fulton and Montgomery counties is hoping to double the number of homes it serves with the addition of a new worker.

The Fulmont Community Action Agency Inc.’s Energy Services program puts state and federal money toward renovations to save people money on utility costs.

The program for the past several years completed about 100 homes each year with another 100 homes put on a waiting list, Donald Powers, program director, said.

Money from the U.S. departments of Energy and Health and Human Services paid for the program through the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s Weatherization Assistance Program.

The weatherization program funds projects to add weather stripping and caulking, insulation in walls and ceilings and improvements in lighting, heating systems and appliances in the homes of income-eligible people.

But two years ago, FulMont started participating in the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s EmPower NY program, Power said.

EmPower NY is an electricity reduction effort started by NYSERDA in 2004 that pays for evaluating an entire home and measures to reduce the use of electricity.

Power said projects include energy audits, changing refrigerators, adding energy-saving light bulbs and putting devices on faucets to reduce hot water usage.

Homes are also checked out for safety, Power said, ensuring there are no carbon monoxide leaks in furnaces and water heaters.

Since joining in on that effort, Power said referrals — identifying new income-eligible homeowners in need of services — have increased. Power said he did not have figures to quantify the increase, but he said having a new employee should enable the agency to boost the number of projects completed in a year.

“I’m hoping to double it,” Power said.

Homeowners eligible for the programs include those with incomes at or below 60 percent of the state median income of about $45,343.

Power said some projects make use of both EmPower NY funding and money through the state DHCR and some make use of one or the other.

Power said he estimates the program spends approximately $450,000 each year on roughly 100 homes. He said homes receive an average of about $4,000 worth of upgrades.

One thing that might change with the addition of a new employee, Power said, is the yearlong waiting list of 100 people.

“That hasn’t changed since I’ve been here for seven-plus years. We’ve always had a year’s waiting list,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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