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NYSERDA Project Goes Deep To Dramatically Cut Energy Use in Older Homes

$1.8 Million Deep-Energy Retrofit Program To Explore Cheaper, More Efficient Insulation Techniques around New York State

October 06, 2011

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has awarded $1.8 million to six contractors to continue developing techniques to make older homes in New York State more energy-efficient at a reasonable cost.

Under the Building Envelope Strategies for Advancing Deep-Energy Retrofits program, contractors will work on optimizing major renovation techniques in a variety of homes around the state. This continues work started by NYSERDA last year to introduce the concept of deep-energy retrofitting.

The deep-energy retrofitting process goes far beyond a typical home energy-efficiency project. The basement-to-attic retrofit is expected to turn a drafty, chilly house into a model of energy efficiency. Such work includes adding insulating foam and a moisture barrier to basement walls, adding rigid insulation and moisture barriers to exterior walls and the roof and replacing existing heating domestic hot water and space heating equipment with tankless hot-water units and small furnaces. An air-to-air heat exchanger may also be used to reduce heating costs.

This project is expected to improve energy efficiency in 24 houses with homeowners expected to contribute 20 percent toward the cost of the project. In addition, three manufacturers are donating $100,000 worth of insulation and technical support.

“Applying advanced building techniques to older homes can help New Yorkers improve energy efficiency in their homes while saving money and cutting energy use,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., NYSERDA President and CEO. “We are pleased to be able to build upon the success of the program started last year by continuing to make the process more affordable while improving the technology and materials involved.”

Award winners include:

  • Taitem Engineering of Ithaca, will install 2.5-inch rigid foam at three sites, seeking cost-effective ways to seal a house from drafts while increasing its insulation potential. Taitem will be building on other techniques practiced in earlier retrofit experiments. Funding: $300,000.
  • Timberline Panel Co., Cambridge, Thermal Foams, Buffalo, and other manufacturers will partner with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center to experiment with high-tech materials on homes in the Capital Region and Long Island. Funding: $300,000.
  • Syracuse-based Green Homes of America, which will work with the national organization Integrated Building and Construction Solutions (IBACOS), to create eight demonstration sites in the Syracuse area. One strategy to be investigated at four sites will use exterior foam to insulate older homes without having to remove existing siding, while the other strategy to be examined will be installing rigid insulating foam to the exterior. Both projects seek to reduce heating costs by 50 percent. Funding: $600,000.
  • The Levy Partnership of New York City, will create three demonstration sites in the New York City area to develop an exterior wall panel product that contains rigid insulation and the finish covering for the purpose of reducing energy costs. $290,000.
  • Verdae LLC of Rhinebeck, will perform deep retrofit to at least three demonstration sites in the Hudson Valley. Their work will record labor and material applications attempting to optimize the costs. Funding: $300,000.

Tests of previous retrofits showed air leakage was significantly reduced, and the size of the required heating system was reduced from a 250,000 Btu/hour system to a 45,000 Btu/hour. Air quality was also improved, due to a forced-air system that circulates fresh air regularly throughout the house.


NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.

Last Updated: 01/17/2014