Assemblymember Dennis Gabryszak (D-Cheektowaga) is reminding residents that there are simple actions homeowners can take to save energy and utility costs, and that there are government incentives, such as tax breaks and financial assistance, for making energy-efficient changes to their homes.
“High home heating costs take a toll on working families and seniors on fixed incomes whenever the bitter cold months roll in, but the burden this winter is even heavier,” Gabryszak said. “Economic instability, fluctuating oil prices and the harsh winter weather are reasons why every person should make energy-efficient improvements in their homes.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical family spends over $1,600 a year on home utility bills – a large portion of which is wasted energy, such as from drafty windows or poor insulation.
“While weatherizing and buying new energy-efficient appliances may be costly now, the cost will eventually be paid for in energy savings,” Assemblymember Dennis Gabryszak said. For those that need help financing these home-improvements, he suggests:
- The federally-funded Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which performs energy-efficiency measures – such as insulating, weather-stripping and replacing appliances – for lower-income homeowners and renters. For more information and income-eligibility contact the Erie County Division of Housing and Community Renewal Office at (716)-847-7955
- Assistance Home Performance with Energy Star, which reduces energy costs for low- and moderate-income households by providing energy efficiency improvements to those who might not be eligible for WAP. Eligible homeowners and renters receive subsidies up to 50 percent of the project cost, for no more than $5,000. Go to www.getenergysmart.org/LowIncome/HomeOwners.aspx for more information or call the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority at 1-866-NYSERDA; and
- Checking out federal tax breaks for energy-saving household improvements, found at www.energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm, and state tax breaks at http://www.tax.state.ny.us.
Assemblymember Dennis Gabryszak added that everyone can lower heating costs – which typically account for 45 percent of utility bills – by:
- Weatherizing their home – caulk and weather-strip doors and windows that leak air, or tightly tape clear plastic film to the inside of window frames;
- Keeping curtains open in the daylight and closed at night;
- Properly insulating the attic, ceilings, floors, crawl spaces and heating ducts, especially if the home was built before 1980;
- Checking for open fireplace dampers;
- Installing exterior or interior storm windows, which can cut heat loss in half;
- Cleaning or replacing furnace filters once a month;
- Making sure floor and wall vents aren’t blocked by furniture or rugs; and
- Turning down the thermostat to 60 degrees while asleep or out, and keeping it comfortably low when home.
Heating doesn’t account for the entire utility bill, added Gabryszak. Homeowners can reduce energy consumption by:
- Buying EnergyStar appliances – which typically exceed federal energy standards by at least 15 percent – to save money and reduce carbon pollution;
- Switching to compact florescent bulbs, which use less energy and last 10 times longer than traditional bulbs. According to the government’s EnergyStar program, if every home replaced its five most-used bulbs with CFLs it would save up to $8 billion a year in energy costs;
- Taking shorter showers and installing low-flow faucets and showerheads;
- Installing heat traps on the water heater pipes and insulating the water heater, or buying a more efficient one if it’s seven years or older
- Lowering the hot water heater thermometer to 120 degrees; and
- Using a power strip for appliances and shutting them off when they’re not in use. Televisions, computers and kitchen appliances will continue to draw power when they’re turned off. Unplugging them will save 75 percent of their energy.
“Everyone has the ability to reduce his or her energy consumption,” Assemblymember Dennis Gabryszak said. “I encourage Erie County residents to take advantage of the assistance and incentives available to ensure a safe, warm and cost-effective winter.”