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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is EmPower New York really free?
A: Yes—State residents meeting EmPower New York eligibility requirements (or landlords renting to eligible tenants) can receive home energy services through the program at no cost.

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Q: Who pays for the energy services delivered through EmPower New York?
A: The program is funded through a System Benefits Charge which is included in the bills of participating electric and natural gas utilities. Therefore, everyone who is a customer of a participating utility (see list under next question) is chipping in to pay for this program. Additional funding is provided from other sources as well, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which provides funding for energy efficiency measures to lower carbon emissions.

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Q: How do I know if I qualify?
A: You may be eligible for EmPower New York if you can answer "yes" to these statements:

  • I live in a home or building with 100 units or fewer
  • My household income is below 60 percent of the state median income (I am eligible for regular HEAP benefits)
    OR
    I participate in a utility payment assistance program
  • I am an electricity or natural gas customer of Central Hudson, Con Edison, National Fuel, National Grid (Upstate, Metro and Long Island), NYSEG, Orange and Rockland, Rochester Gas & Electric and pay SBC
    OR
    heat with oil, propane, or kerosene
  • I am responsible for paying utility bills

Learn more about eligibility requirements

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Q: What are some of the no-cost energy services that EmPower New York may provide?

  • Replacement of old-style light bulbs with high-efficiency lighting
  • Replacement of inefficient refrigerators and freezers with new ENERGY STAR® certified models
  • Added insulation to keep your home more comfortable
  • Strategic air sealing to reduce drafts
  • Heating system upgrades for inefficient heating units
  • Everyday strategies and tips to help you manage your energy costs

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Q: What are some services that EmPower New York does not provide?

  • Roofs
  • Windows
  • Stoves

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Q: If I accept improvements from EmPower New York, are you going to put a lien on my home? Am I required to pay the program back if I move or my income changes?
A: No—there is no cost or future obligation when you participate in EmPower New York.

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Q: Do the contractors perform code inspections?
A: No—EmPower New York contractors are not code inspectors.

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Q: Can I hire my own contractor?
A: No—EmPower New York assigns all work to a predefined list of program-approved contractors [PDF]. These contractors are recognized by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) as BPI GoldStar contractors, a national organization that sets the technical standards for contractors in energy-efficient building performance, so you know they’re applying the latest knowledge and technology to the energy efficiency of your home.

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Q: Can I get paid back for work I have already performed?
A: No—EmPower New York cannot refund you for work that has already been completed.

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Q: Does EmPower New York provide services to renters?
A: Yes—EmPower New York provides energy services to anyone who owns or rents a home and meets all of the eligibility requirements.

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Q: Does my landlord have to be involved?
A: No—EmPower New York can provide some limited electric reduction services to your apartment where possible but landlords are encouraged to participate to provide you with a more comprehensive work scope.

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Q: Does my landlord have to pay anything?
A: If the eligible tenant of an apartment or single-family home directly benefits from the energy services being provided through EmPower New York, those services will be completed at no cost to the landlord. Some services, such as adding insulation, require the landlord to sign an agreement allowing the measures to be installed and to protect the tenant from eviction due to the installation of the measures. However, a landlord investment may be required if EmPower New York is providing energy services to multiple units in a multifamily building.

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Q: What are some of the benefits that I can talk to my landlord about?
A: When EmPower New York provides energy services to a building where a low-income family rents, it also benefits the landlord:

  • Free energy efficiency upgrades can increase the value of the property without an investment from the landlord
  • A more comfortable home attracts and retains long-term renters, helping to keep units filled and revenue steady
  • Lower energy costs reduce the financial burden on tenants, making it easier for them to pay their rent on time
  • The free home assessment includes a health and safety check, providing peace of mind for both the landlord and tenants
  • You can refer your landlord to Honeywell (1-800-263-0960) for more information

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Q: Does everyone get a free refrigerator and/or freezer?
A: No—refrigerators and freezers are only provided if the old appliance uses a lot of energy and replacing it is an effective way to reduce the family’s energy costs.

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Q: What kinds of refrigerators are installed?
A: EmPower New York provides brand-new ENERGY STAR certified models complete with shelving and freezer compartments. The size of your refrigerator is determined by the size of the appliance currently used in your home, the size of your family and the most cost-effective option for saving energy. New refrigerators are white and do not include ice/water dispensers. The makes and models are program-approved and are not chosen by the program participant.

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Q: Can I keep my old refrigerator? Can I get my old one back if I don’t like the new one?
A: No—the goal is to remove old, inefficient refrigerators and freezers from the energy grid. Participating households must agree to give up their old appliance to receive a new replacement. The old appliances are then scrapped and recycled.

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Q: What happens if the refrigerator or freezer needs repairs?
A: The appliances come with a full one-year warranty. As the new owner, you are responsible for service or repairs should any problems arise after the warranty period. Vendor contact and warranty information is provided directly with the appliance or through the mail shortly before or after its delivery.

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Q: Who will be working on my EmPower New York project?
A: An entire team works to ensure that you receive the best services possible. The team includes:

  1. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) administers the EmPower New York program
  2. Honeywell is the implementation contractor that coordinates the delivery of services to your household from the application process through the installation of measures in your home
  3. A program-approved energy contractor installs the measures
  4. Conservation Services Group (CSG) is the quality assurance contractor that ensures energy measures were installed in the best possible way to save you the most energy

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Q: Who do I contact if I have more questions?
A: Please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-263-0960 for more information.

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Last Updated: 08/15/2014
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