Seniors on a fixed income tend to watch their spending. That's where Project Independence, a Town of North Hempstead initiative that helps seniors age in place, can assist.
Project Independence hosted a program at the recently called Save Energy, Save Money and Save the Planet. Virginia Walsh, senior marketing coordinator at the Long Island Power Authority and Sophy Yem, outreach coordinator for EmPower New York, told seniors how to make their homes more energy efficient.
Walsh concentrated on the four basic ways to conserve home energy. They are: unplugging appliances when they are not in use, corking up drafty windows, looking at high water temperatures in your home and to stop sleeping with all the windows open in the winter. She also emphasized using a power strip to plug in appliances to save money on the electric bill.
“Ghost load, which adds up to 7 to 10 percent of the electric bill draws a lot of energy by leaving things such as the television, computer, coffee maker and cell phone charger plugged in at all times,” Walsh said. “You can also save by using energy efficient bulbs and getting an Energy Star refrigerator.”
According to Walsh, LIPA is offering free home energy audits for qualified customers depending on their income. A family of four would have to make a gross annual income of $72,520 or under and a family of two would have to earn $58,030 or less and a single person would have to earn $50,820 or less to qualify. The program offers free compact fluorescent lightbulbs and/ or a free new Energy Star refrigerator if a current refrigerator fails LIPA’s energy-efficient test.
“If you have a LIPA bill and meet the income requirements, then call 1-800-263-6786 and it doesn’t matter if you rent or own your own home,” Walsh said. “Our energy efficient refrigerators will cost you $10 or less on your monthly electric bill and a regular refrigerator can cost you between $20 to $50 monthly."
Walsh added that leaky spots in the attic and basement should always be checked and the hot water should always be set at 120 to 125 degrees and this will add up in huge bill savings.
Port Washington resident Marilyn Caruthers asked, “Why can’t LIPA offer refrigerators that are designed side by side?”
Walsh explained that a side-by-side refrigerator uses up more energy and is difficult to replace, but possibly with a doctor’s note stating the medical necessity, it can then be done.
Yem said her program works with National Grid to provide those who heat their home with tips to save money on heating bills. The EmPower New York program also looks at lower income residents who have a household income of below 60 percent of state median income or if someone receives Medicaid, foodstamps or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
“The program offers home performance strategies and analysis such as insulation, replacement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a HEAP [Home Energy Assistance Program] grant to assist with heating bills and the program is free,” Yem said. “In addition to qualify, a household needs to use a 1000 therms or more of gas yearly or $185 in gas or more monthly and oil users have to be using more than 600 gallons of oil per year."
To receive an application on EmPower New York, call 1-800-263-0960.