Schenectady County

Home energy audit results in lower utility bill

All Tom Patricca wanted for Christmas last year was an energy audit.

All Tom Patricca wanted for Christmas last year was an energy audit.

Five years after moving to Grenoside Avenue, he began to notice how drafty his 1950s ranch-style house would get during the winter. So when he learned of a 10 percent discount he could get on the cost of energy efficiency improvements to the three-bedroom house, he begged his wife Chris to give him the audit.

“I always wanted it,” he said. “I just wanted to see what the difference was.”

The Patriccas finished the audit in March and wanted the consultant to make the changes he suggested. The monthlong project cost them about $11,000, the bulk of which was for foam insulation in the walls and in corners of the basement.

The results were almost instantaneous. All summer, he said, the house remained cool enough that they didn’t need to use air conditioning as frequently.

“You could feel the difference walking from the outside in,” he said.

And now that cooler weather has arrived, the Patriccas don’t find themselves turning up their thermostat, either. Already, they’re saving nearly $60 per month on their energy bills.

“It’s one of those improvements you can’t see,” said Chris Patricca. “But you can see it in your statement.”

Officials from National Grid and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority showed off the Patriccas’ home Friday as an example of a family that is cashing in on programs aimed at reducing energy costs. Both the authority and public utility company are expanding these programs in an effort to reduce the burden of rising energy costs, said Susan Crossett, National Grid’s vice president of energy solutions.

“Natural gas prices are close to historic high levels and customers should expect prices to continue to be volatile,” she said. “Taking steps to use energy more efficiently is one guaranteed way to reduce costs.”

Crossett said natural gas will cost about 11 percent more this winter. The inflated cost means an average user could face an increase of about $20 per month throughout the winter.

Crossett said National Grid is now offering a number of programs that will allow utility users to save on their energy costs. These programs include incentives for installing high-efficiency heating equipment, rebates for certain Energy Star products to reduce natural gas usage, an online self-audit tool for improving efficiency, and a high-efficiency heating program for commercial customers.

“For every one degree you set your thermostat back, you can save approximately 3 percent on your energy bill,” she said.

NYSERDA spokesman Tom Lynch urged New Yorkers to investigate the state’s efficiency programs as the Patriccas did. He said the results will ultimately pay exponential dividends.

“There are many low-cost and no-cost things renters and homeowners can do to save on their energy bills,” he said.

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