Cooling Assistance Program Helps Renters, Homeowners Beat the Heat

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Tompkins Weekly      8-1-16

By Frank Howe

Given the extraordinary heat wave Tompkins County is currently experiencing, Tompkins Community Action, Inc. (TCAction) is actively participating in Tompkins County’s Cooling Assistance Program offered by the Tompkins County Department of Social Services. This program provides for the purchase and installation of air conditioners or a fan to eligible households. Whenever possible, window air conditioning units with an Energy Star rating are installed. The HEAP Cooling Assistance program will operate through Aug. 31. For more information please contact the DSS HEAP Coordinator at (607) 274-5263.

TCAction offers energy efficiency and health and safety programs to households of all income levels. The following is a description of the various energy efficiency services and programs we provide.

A TCATCAction Energy Services logoction Home Energy Audit is a comprehensive energy assessment detailing how the largest energy efficiency gains can be achieved in one’s home. The audit, conducted by our Building Performance Institute-certified Building Analysts, identifies how all the elements of a housing unit work together to impact the amount of electricity and fuel used. The result is a whole-house analysis of where and how a home is wasting energy. Following the audit, a report detailing the recommended home energy improvements the resident might make is discussed. Once a work plan has been identified, we work with our customer to identify and package potential funding sources for the energy efficiency work. Income-qualified homeowners and renters may be eligible for free audits.

Our Weatherization Assistance Program is a free program for income-eligible homeowners and renters. For landlords renting to households with low incomes, there is a small contribution required but it’s still a great way to make units more energy efficient at a fraction of the usual cost.

Households that receive SSI, SNAP, Public Assistance, and HEAP are automatically eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program and other energy efficiency programs including EmPowerNY. Priority is given to seniors, head-of-household single parents, and persons with disabilities. Households with incomes at or below 60% of New York State Median Income are also eligible. This program provides energy efficiency enhancements including: insulation and air-sealing; heating system repair and replacement; Energy Star appliances; water heater repair and replacement; window and door installation; and additional health and safety measures.

Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star is a NYSERDA program designed to assist income eligible households lower their energy bills and make their homes safer and more comfortable by matching up to 50% of energy improvement costs (up to $5,000 for a single family home). Energy improvement measures under this program may include: Insulation upgrades and air sealing, window and door replacement, heating systems repair or replacement, water heater repairs or replacement, installation of ENERGY STAR® appliances, and various health and safety measures.

EmPower NY, another NYSERDA program, provides free, cost-effective improvements to income eligible NYSEG and National Grid customers to help lower the cost and consumption of electricity. Improvements may include: Energy-efficient lighting, showerheads and faucets, hot water tank and pipe insulation, refrigerator and freezer replacement, and other electric reduction measures.

TCAction’s Business Energy Services program is available to those who, because of their income, may not be qualified for our other programs. Working in collaboration with NYSERDA and utilizing their EmPower NY and Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star programs, our goal is to assist you with cost-effective home energy improvements.

Tompkins Community Action, Inc. (TCAction) is a private, not for profit charitable organization that had its grassroots beginnings in 1964. We began as a local coalition of concerned community members who wanted to improve the lives of households with low incomes in Tompkins County; a mission still foremost to us today. Formally incorporated in 1966, the Agency became part of a National and State network of Community Action Agencies. Growing from a small not-for-profit with a budget of $25,000 and a staff of 3.5 employees in 1966, we have transformed and grown into a large, multifaceted community action agency implementing and integrating 19 programs that serve households with low incomes and community collaborations. Today, we have a staff of just over 100 who annually assist approximately 6,000 individuals with low incomes through our programming in Tompkins County.

Since 1979, Tompkins Community Action has improved the energy efficiency of homes through cost-effective building performance services. Our goal is to improve the comfort and sustainability of the housing unit, and the health and safety of the occupants.

We have been dedicated to working closely with members of our community to identify potential programs and funding sources to help homeowners and renters. Please feel free to contact us at 273-8816 ext. 128.

Frank Howe is the Energy Services Director at Tompkins Community Action.

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