NY.gov Portal State Agency Listing Search all of NY.gov
Print

Existing Home Renovations Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why should I participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program?
A: When you participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, you are making an investment in your company and in your employees that can open new doors for potential customers and services you provide.

By becoming a participating Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor, you will be able to provide your customers with free or reduced-cost comprehensive home energy assessments, cashback incentives and access to low-interest financing. Additionally, you will receive incentives based on the work you complete in the program.

When you align your business with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, you are making a statement to your customers and your competitors that energy efficiency is important and that you feel strongly about the efficiency and safety of your customers’ homes.

Top of Page

Q: How can I use this program to build my business?
A: Most people are seeking ways to reduce waste and save money on their energy bills, and many are interested in energy-efficiency upgrades that help the planet, too. Recent research shows that more than half (56%) of homeowners in New York State plan to make home energy efficiency improvements—most within the next three years. And 70% say they would hire a contractor to do at least part of the work.

As a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor, you will be growing your business along with marketplace demands. As a BPI-accredited business, you gain stature among your competitors, and you can offer expanded services to a larger customer base.

If your business currently handles only one area of energy efficiency—such as HVAC, for example—you can subcontract additional aspects of the work you don’t specialize in. This way, you can provide a complete, integrated solution to your customers or refer the work to another participating contractor.

Top of Page

Q: Will NYSERDA provide leads for new business? How do you ensure that leads are handled fairly?
A: Homeowners who are interested in finding a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor can find a listing on the NYSERDA website or by calling the toll-free hotline at 866-NYSERDA. On the website, the Resource Locator is organized as a map of New York State, and homeowners simply click the area where they live. This list of contractors is randomly generated and sorted with each page visit, instead of an alphabetical listing, so that no preferred position is assigned to any contractor or company.

Top of Page

Q: How do I sign up?
A: Your company must first earn accreditation from the Building Performance Institute. Then you will sign a Participation Agreement with NYSERDA, which outlines program guidelines and contractor responsibilities. To learn more, visit the webpage on how to become a contractor.

Top of Page

Q: Why do I have to be BPI accredited?
A: NYSERDA relies on BPI as its certification and accreditation agency, and follows its testing procedures and safety guidelines for building-performance work. Your company must also have adequate insurance and a commitment to customer service and BPI job standards. In this way, NYSERDA can be confident that your company meets stringent requirements to perform energy efficiency assessments and upgrades.

Individual technicians are certified by BPI; each company must also be accredited. To be accredited, a company must have trained staff at two levels of certification: Building Analyst and Specialist. The Building Analyst understands the basics of building science, with knowledge of home assessment procedures. The Specialist has advanced knowledge in a particular subject area such as heating and cooling or the envelope of a building.

Top of Page

Q: What training is involved?
A: NYSERDA has partnered with over 50 training organizations to provide clean energy training for New York State’s workforce. Building science and energy auditing training is available to help prepare individuals for certification through the Building Performance Institute. Training courses are offered through several community colleges and other training/education providers throughout New York State.

Top of Page

Q: Why do I have to buy special equipment?
A: The specialized equipment used in a comprehensive home energy assessment ensures that the energy audit is accurately measuring important factors for the health and safety of a home, along with its energy efficiency. This sophisticated, whole-house evaluation provides the highest impact on the home’s energy efficiency, comfort and safety. NYSERDA offers reimbursement of 20 percent, up to $4,000, for new contractors purchasing eligible diagnostic equipment.

Top of Page

Q: What type of support does the program offer after training?
A: The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program offers programmatic and technical assistance after you become a participating contractor.

The program also offers financial support through contractor incentives.

Top of Page

Q: What is offered for co-marketing with NYSERDA? Does the co-marketing program just support external advertising, or will NYSERDA reimburse me for tradeshow activities?
A: Incentives for cooperative advertising provide assistance, up to 60 percent, to help pay for your marketing efforts as a participating contractor. These incentives are available on a first-come, first-served basis while funding is available. You can use cooperative advertising reimbursement for marketing such as television, radio, print and online advertisements, signage and home shows.

Top of Page

Q: What software do I need to have for reporting requirements?
A: All energy calculations for Home Performance with ENERGY STAR are computed using program-approved energy modeling software. Contact NYSERDA for additional information regarding program-approved software.

Top of Page

Q: How are contractors reimbursed by NYSERDA for an audit and for energy-efficiency upgrades?
A: Contractors are paid directly by NYSERDA for energy assessments they perform for customers approved to receive a free or reduced cost assessment. The amount paid for each audit is based on the size of the building and income level of the customer relative to the mean income of the customer’s county.

For each completed energy-efficiency project resulting from an audit, a contractor receives 5% of the cost of eligible work. This incentive is paid directly by NYSERDA to the contractor.

Top of Page

Q: How long will these incentives be available?
A: The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program is funded by a variety of sources, with various sunset dates. The largest source of funding, the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS), is approved through 2015.

Top of Page

Q: How is the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency investments measured?
A: Energy savings are projected using the approved energy-modeling software. This software output can help contractors and their customers prioritize potential improvements based on the savings-to-investment ratio (SIR). The contractor and homeowner can then agree on a mutually acceptable Scope of Work, which may include measures that save significant amounts of energy along with others that may provide less energy savings but offer other features the customer finds to be of value, such as greater comfort. 

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR relies on the Prequalified list for determining eligibility for the High Efficiency Measure Incentive (HEMI), the Assisted Home Performance (AHP) Grant and the Smart Energy Loan. Measures that are listed as prequalified have passed the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test as required by the Public Service Commission.

 

Additional measures on the Eligible Measures List may qualify for the Green Jobs – Green NY Smart Energy Loans and On-Bill Recovery Loans if they meet cost effectiveness requirements.

Top of Page

Q: Why are replacement windows not supported in the program, as they were previously?
A: Windows are eligible for program financing incentives as long as the overall project is determined to be cost-effective.

Top of Page

Q: Will my work be inspected for quality assurance?
A: NYSERDA contracts with a third-party company to inspect 10-15 percent of the projects that are performed by participating contractors. If issues are found, the contractor would be notified, and an action plan to remedy the issue(s) may be required.

Top of Page

Q: Is there a minimum number of assessments and improvements that need to be done each year to stay in the program?
A: By the end of their first year of participation, contractors must complete at least 12 projects, and/or at least $50,000 in eligible work. In each succeeding year of participation, contractors must complete at least 24 projects, and/or $100,000 in eligible work.

Top of Page

Q: What support is available from NYSERDA on a day-to-day basis?
A: Once your company is a participating contractor, you will have the ongoing support of NYSERDA’s implementation contractor, Conservation Services Group, or CSG for short. You can call upon CSG for ongoing training questions and support.

Top of Page

Q: What kind of marketing material and resources are available to educate consumers?
A: Chances are good that you are already familiar with the national Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. Marketing efforts such as this help convince homeowners of the importance of energy efficiency. You can always refer customers to nyserda.ny.gov/home-performance.

Top of Page

Q: What kind of program advertising or support is planned?
A: NYSERDA provides statewide advertising throughout the year to promote the program. NYSERDA uses marketing mediums such as print and online advertising.

Top of Page

Q: Free assessments don’t necessarily bring in qualified customers. Does NYSERDA help me convert audits to actual work?
A: NYSERDA is embarking on an integrated campaign to show homeowners the value of acting on home energy assessments. You will see newspaper and magazine articles that profile customers who describe their experiences, for example, as well as brochures and videos that illustrate how simple the process is and how important it is to act on energy-saving recommendations.

Top of Page

Q: How does this program affect my cash flow?
A: NYSERDA provides contractors with an incentive of 5 percent of the cost of eligible work, up to $500 per project. Additional contractor incentives may be available if you subcontract work out to eligible contractors or install eligible appliances in a home. After your project is completed, you should receive payment in about four to six weeks. NYSERDA has made a focused effort on reimbursement turnaround, knowing that many contractors rely on their quick payment for ongoing expenses such as payroll and taxes. Also, program incentives and financing may allow homeowners to contract larger, more comprehensive work scopes.

Top of Page

Q: How do the programs mesh with rebates from utility companies?
A: NYSERDA and local utilities are careful to ensure that homeowners aren’t reimbursed more than once for specific upgrades they perform at their homes. This would be a misuse of public funds and could prevent another person from receiving a deserved reimbursement. Homeowners should research their reimbursement options carefully before committing to a specific program. Some Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractors perform this research on behalf of their customers as a service to ensure customer retention.

The low-interest financing offered through Home Performance with ENERGY STAR can cover the balance of the project cost after subtracting utility and NYSERDA incentives.

Top of Page

Q: How do you support green collar workforce development?
A: A variety of programs are in place to encourage workforce development. These range from incentive rebates for people working toward industry certifications, to apprenticeship and internship programs at companies, training centers and colleges. Visit nyserda.ny.gov/workforce to learn about training opportunities near you.

Top of Page

Last Updated: 04/10/2014