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February Climate Hero- Bedford 2030 Energy Coach Updates

Energy Coach Program Progress

Over the past 2+ years since the Bedford 2030 Energy Coach Program launched, almost 300 individuals from Westchester to Maine have completed free consultations with Coach Bob Fischman. Of those consults, 39% have pursued upgrades in their homes. By empowering individuals with expert recommendations and personalized guidance, our energy coach is helping to reduce polluting building emissions and make our community healthier. 

Working with Bob was extremely helpful - we bought a fixer upper that was cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and had high energy bills. Bob spent an hour giving us a free consultation on our situation. His guidance was to perform an energy audit, seal our energy envelope, and insulate the house. We contacted an insulation contractor from one of his list of approved vendors, and after the project, we have seen our energy bills reduced by about 30% - plus, we are so much more comfortable in the winter and summer!

To continuously stay on top of the latest updates, Bob attended the Clean Energy for Homes Conference in Saratoga Springs.  The conference was organized by the Building Performance Association and NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research & Development Authority), and was attended by about 500 industry professionals, including energy auditors, insulation contractors, air-source and geothermal heat pump installers, product manufacturers, architects, engineers, utilities and more.  It showcased the work being done to help homeowners and tenants lower their energy costs and their carbon footprint, all while making their homes more comfortable. 

Top takeaways from the New York for Clean Power “Clean Energy Homes” conference

Doreen Harris, NYSERDA’s CEO, highlighed one of the essential goals of New York’s signature climate legislation, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA): Make 2 million homes in New York more energy efficient and climate-friendly by 2030.  That’s just six years from now!  It’s going to take a lot of work and a real commitment from all of us to achieve.

The people most affected by climate change and have the most difficulty paying their energy bills are those who can least afford to pay for much needed improvements in their homes. Getting help to those who need it most can have a substantial impact on the lives of the neediest in our communities.  NYSERDA has set aside $200 million to fund EmPower+ home retrofits to meet those needs, reducing energy costs and creating healthier living environments for low-income New Yorkers.

Michael Forrester represented the US Department of Energy speaking on the Inflation Reduction Act.  The IRA provides a dizzying array of incentives to help Americans afford many of the improvements in their homes that will lower their energy bills and their environmental impact.  There are plenty of tax credits available for things like insulation, windows, geothermal and air-source heat pumps, solar and batteries.  Beyond that, there will be $8.3 billion allotted to point-of-sale rebates, mostly for those in lower and middle income brackets.  It turns out that New York is one of only four states that have submitted their plans to the DOE to get the funding needed to roll out these rebates.   New York expects to receive more than $317 million to put toward rebates and incentives that will help our state reach its targets under the CLCPA.

Energy Coach Presentation: Customer Communication & Setting Homeowner / Occupant Expectations

Bob kicked off a panel discussion alongside Gary Pugh, an energy auditor with PEACE, Inc., Jason Scher of Energy Management Solutions, and Lauren Brois who directs Sustainable Westchester’s EnergySmart Homes program. Bob shared the importance of educating and empowering homeowners to feel confident about energy efficiency and clean energy technologies in order to move forward with projects in their own homes.  Each of the panelists spoke in turn about how they respond to the customers’ needs and keep their interests at heart.  Cara-Leigh Battaglia, President of the Building Performance Contractors Association of New York moderated the panel discussion and fielded lots of good questions from the packed room. The audience was especially impressed with the conversion rate of energy coach sessions!

Other Presentations

There were dozens of presentations and discussions over two days, as well as a trade show where manufacturers and others could showcase their products to the industry.  Westchester-based Healthy Home Energy & Consulting’s Kevin Brenner and Lexi Slavin each gave presentations on insulation and air sealing, the importance of indoor air quality, and the imperative of building a qualified workforce.  Realtors, home buyers and home sellers are expressing interest in rating systems that qualify homes as being more sustainable, which substantially increases resale value.

In all, there was a lot to learn, a lot to share, and a sense that although there is so much to be done, we have a growing army of highly qualified, knowledgeable people eager to solve our climate crisis – one home at a time!

Next steps in the Energy Coach program

Bedford2030 is excited to expand the Energy Coach program by hiring another coach. The coach would provide support to Bob and help expand the reach of the Energy Coach program to more of our community members. We hope to have our coaches attend more events this year and speak to more building owners, home owners and tenants to help make our town’s buildings more energy efficient, cost effective and most importantly, healthier!