Prepare for winter with energy efficiency upgrades

Cooperative Extension can help you get year-round energy savings...


By Kevin Posman via The Ithaca Journal, 11/9/12

Temperatures are dropping, but unfortunately, fuel prices aren’t going the same way. That spurs many people to start asking around this time of year: “How can I save money on my energy bills?”

The first step is to take a look at  to learn about how you can save energy, and the incentives that are available to help you upgrade the energy efficiency of your living space.

Be sure to check out the interactive financing guide to learn about ways to help pay for improvements, how-to tips and videos for saving energy and stories of other residents who have made upgrades that not only saved them money, but made them more comfortable in their own homes.

Armed with this knowledge, you can begin taking action by getting a no- or reduced-cost home energy assessment through NYSERDA’s Home Performance with Energy Star program. An energy assessment is a great opportunity to learn where your home is losing energy and easy cost-effective improvements you can make to reduce energy costs, increase comfort and reduce indoor air pollutants.

During the assessment, an accredited contractor evaluates insulation levels, finds air leaks, and determines the efficiency of heating systems, household appliances and lighting. They will use a thermal imaging camera to identify heat loss through walls and areas that need additional insulation. They will set up a blower door — a specialized fan that fits in an outside doorway — to find where air is leaking into and out of the house. Every house leaks air through small openings around windows, sill plates, and potentially hundreds of small infiltrations. It is virtually impossible to find them all without a blower door. The contractor will also test for carbon monoxide leakage and suggest ways to reduce your exposure to indoor air pollutants.

Soon after, you will receive a comprehensive report detailing any potentially dangerous conditions they found, as well as recommendations for energy-saving measures (again, most people qualify to have all of this done for free). The report will also include pay-back estimates, meaning how much each measure will cost and how long it will take to earn that back based on what it will save you each year.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County is organizing programs to help spread the word about the benefits of energy efficiency. We offer presentations to any group, organization, or neighborhood. Energy teams are forming throughout the county to provide support for people to make the changes they want to make. If you are interested in getting involved, or are part of a group interested in having us do a presentation, contact Kevin Posman at (607) 272-2292, or

Think globally, act locally. Together, we can strengthen our community by saving energy.

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.