June 3, 2009
I am looking to buy a house but before I do I want to make it as green as I possibly can. I want to put in a geothermal system, a cistern to catch rainwater, energy efficient windows, tankless water heater, composting toilets and other environmental saving features. I know there is money for solar by my question is, are there any grants to help me off set the cost of what I want to do?, as I know this will be very expensive.
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There are a number of incentive programs for improving the energy and environmental performance of your home. Whether and for which programs you may be eligible for depend on the type of home (1-4 family or multifamily building), the measures you’re looking to fund, and on your household income. Some of these programs can be combined.
A great place to start is with the NYSERDA programs. NYSERDA is the NY State Energy Research and Development Authority, and they administer a long list of programs to promote energy efficiency. These programs are funded by a small fee that everyone pays on their utility bill (Check your bill next time and you’ll see a line item called the Service Benefit Charge).
If your home is a 1-4 family building, the subsidies available to you come in the form of low-interest loans. If you participate in a loan program, however, you may be eligible to receive a grant of up to $3000 once your work is complete. You can read about the offerings here.
In addition to these incentive programs, you may be able to take advantage of the federal income tax credits. Generally, the tax credit allows you to claim up to 30% of the cost. More information is available on the EPA Energy Star site and on the Alliance to Save Energy site.
Finally, there are some programs specially designed for low-income residents. You will need to check your household income against each program’s income limits.
For NYSERDA’s income-qualified program, you can receive a grant that will cover up to 50% of the energy efficiency improvements. A family of 2 living in New York City can make up to $49,150 to qualify. More information can be found here.
The other income-qualified program that you may want to look into is the Weatherization Assistance Program, which will be receiving a giant influx of Federal Stimulus money starting this July. The WAP program provides an energy audit and a list of recommended measures, costs of which are then funded up to 75%. To qualify, your family must make 60% of State median income or less (About $38,000 for a family of 3). More information is available at the DHCR Website
Hope that helps!