How To Improve The Energy Efficiency of Your Building

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As part of its Climate Smart Communities initiative, the Town of Philipstown has prepared this guide to help local homeowners and business-owners access a variety of measures and funding opportunities, which, when combined, will allow you to drastically improve your building’s energy efficiency, reduce your building's annual greenhouse gas emissions and save money on your energy expenses. As for new construction, we recommend building to “Passive House” standards as the most cost-effective way to produce a durable low emissions building .

What are the benefits of Energy Efficiency?

  • It can save you money over time.

  • It can improve the comfort and air quality of your building

  • It improves the local economy by investing in local energy sources and jobs.

  • It is good for the environment, especially air and water quality.

  • It decreases reliance on foreign energy and improves national security.

What are the drawbacks of Energy Efficiency?

  • Some steps can require a substantial initial investment in order to achieve long-term savings.

  • Improperly completed insulation and/or airsealing work can cause mold issues if proper air flow and air exchange is ignored.

Steps to Improve Your Building’s Energy Efficiency:

1. Conduct a Building Energy Assessment

  • Homeowners can apply for a NYSERDA Home Performance with Energy Star Assessment, which is a free or low-cost home energy audit.

  • Businesses can apply to NYSERDA’s Flexible Technical Assistance Program for funding support.

  • Or you can hire an energy audit company directly (the fastest way).

2. Improve the Building’s Energy Efficiency

  • Air-seal the attic, rim joists & sill plates, basement, walls and HVAC ducts. Recommended air leakage rates are: 1) For building envelope: less than 3 Air Changes per Hour (ACH) at 50 pascals of pressure, and 2) For ductwork: less than four percent of conditioned floor area (Sources: DOE and IECC - Climate Zone 5).

  • Weather-strip and/or update windows and doors, or install window inserts.

  • Install vapor barriers in appropriate areas, especially in crawl spaces, to avoid mold and mildew growth.

  • In order of priority, insulate the attic ceiling (conditioned attic) or attic floor (unconditioned attic); rim joists; basement floor (conditioned basement) or basement ceiling (unconditioned basement); and all conditioned walls. Recommended insulation amounts are: Attic +R49, Rim Joists +R20, Basement +R25, and Walls +R20 (Sources: DOE and IECC - Climate Zone 5).

  • Insulate HVAC ducts and all pipes in exterior walls / unconditioned spaces. Recommended Insulation amounts are: Ductwork +R12, Water pipes +R3.  (Sources: DOE and IECC - Climate Zone 5).

  • Replace all lights with LEDs and old appliances with the most efficient models.

  • Install a clothes dryer heat diverter in the exhaust line to recover outgoing heat and humidity during the winter.

3. Convert to 100% Renewable Electricity

  • Install on-site solar photovoltaic (PV), wind, or micro-hydro.

  • Purchase 100% renewable electricity via Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), a Community Solar Project or from a third-party Energy Service Company (ESCO).

4. Convert all Energy Usages to Electricity

  • Electrify space heating and cooling with Ground Source (Geothermal) Heat Pumps or Air Source Heat Pumps, and install Smart Thermostats.

  • Electrify Domestic Hot Water with an Electric Heat Pump Water Heater or a Tankless Electric Water Heater.

  • Install a Heat-Recovery Ventilator to save energy while exchanging stale air for fresh air in an airtight house - this will help avoid mold and carbon monoxide issues.

  • Convert gas or diesel generators to energy storage in the form of batteries or electric vehicle battery.

5. Change Occupant Behavior

  • Reduce winter thermostat setpoints and increase summer thermostat setpoints.

  • Turn off unused lights or install motion-sensor light switches.

  • To reduce phantom power losses, unplug appliances when not using them.

  • Use fans / open windows instead of using AC in summer, if appropriate.

  • Use less hot water for bathing, laundry and dishes whenever possible.

  • Hang laundry instead of using the clothes dryer.

How Can I Finance These Improvements?

*Each highlighted title below is a direct link to each program’s website.

1. Building Energy Assessment

a. NYSERDA Home Performance with Energy Star

  • Free or low-cost home energy audit.

b. NYSERDA EmPower NY Program

  • Free home energy audit for low-income homeowners

c. NYSERDA FlexTech Program

  • All commercial and industrial facilities in New York State that pay into the electric System Benefits Charge (SBC) on their electricity bills are eligible to receive assistance in paying for an energy audit.

2. Air-sealing and Insulation

a. NYSERDA EmPower NY Program

  • Free energy efficiency upgrades for low-income homeowners

b. NYSERDA Assisted Home Performance With Energy Star

  • 50% energy-efficiency-upgrades subsidy for income-eligible homeowners

c.  “HomeAdvance” With Sealed

  • Program to gradually pay off energy efficiency upgrades via energy bills.

d.  Federal Non-Business Energy Property Tax Credit

  • Varying tax credits on building envelope improvements

e. Energize NY Commercial Program

  • Offers Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to commercial building owners to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades.

3. HVAC, Domestic Hot Water (DHW) and Lighting

a. Federal Non-Business Energy Property Tax Credit

  • Varying tax credits on HVAC and DHW equipment upgrades.

b. Energy Star Rebates Via Central Hudson

  • Varying rebates for HVAC, DHW and Lighting equipment upgrades.

c. NYSERDA Air Source Heat Pump Rebate

  • $500 per installed ASHP system rebate for HVAC installers.

4. Solar Photovoltaic

a. NYSERDA NY-Sun Residential / Non-Residential Incentive Program

  • Subsidies for NYSERDA-approved solar installation contractors to lower solar installation costs.

b. NYSERDA Affordable Solar Program

  • Doubles the amount received by installers from NY-Sun for households earning less than 80 percent of the median income in the area.

c. NYSERDA On-Bill Recovery and Smart Energy Loans.

  • Loan amounts are available from $1,500 to $25,000 with loan terms of 5, 10, or 15 years to help New York residents finance solar installation.

d. Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

  • 30% tax credit on solar energy systems through 2021.

e. Community Solar via NY-Sun

  • Purchase solar panels at or subscribe to a community solar project to access solar energy without installing PV panels on your property.

5. Small Wind Turbines

a. NYSERDA Small Wind Turbine Program

  • Subsidy that can pay up to 50% of the cost of a small wind turbine system

b. Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

  • 30% tax credit on small wind energy systems through 2021.

6. Geothermal Heat Pumps

a. Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

  • 30% tax credit on geothermal heat pump systems through 2021.

b. NYSERDA Ground Source Heat Pump Rebate

  • Rebate for designers and installers to lower the cost of geothermal by up to $1,500 per “ton” of cooling capacity ($15,000 max. for single family homes). 

- Created January 2019 -