Frequently Asked Questions
- Is EmPower New York really free?
- Who pays for the energy services delivered through EmPower New York?
- How do I know if I qualify?
- What are some of the no-cost energy services that EmPower New York may provide?
- How does the monthly electric bill credit from community solar work?
- What are some services that EmPower New York does not provide?
- 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?
- Do the contractors perform code inspections?
- Can I hire my own contractor?
- Can I get paid back for work I have already performed?
- Does EmPower New York provide services to renters?
- Does my landlord have to be involved?
- Does my landlord have to pay anything?
- What are some of the benefits that I can talk to my landlord about?
- Does everyone get a free refrigerator and/or freezer?
- What kinds of refrigerators are installed?
- Can I keep my old refrigerator? Can I get my old one back if I don’t like the new one?
- What happens if the refrigerator or freezer needs repairs?
- Who will be working on my EmPower New York project?
- Who do I contact if I have more questions?
Q: Is EmPower New York really free?
A: Yes—State residents meeting EmPower New York eligibility requirements can receive home energy services through the program at no cost.
Q: Who pays for the energy services delivered through EmPower New York?
A: The program is funded through a “System Benefits Charge” included in the bills of participating electric and natural gas utilities. This means that everyone who is a customer of a participating utility 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 upgrades to lower carbon emissions.
Q: How do I know if I qualify?
A: You may be eligible if the following are true:
- Your total household gross income meets the income guidelines or if you are receiving HEAP, SNAP, or public assistance.
- You are 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—or heat with oil, propane, kerosene, wood, coal, or pellets.
- The person on the utility account resides in the household.
- You reside in a building with 100 units or less.
Learn more about eligibility requirements
- 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.
- Air sealing to reduce drafts.
- Installation of clean heating and cooling heat pumps.
- A monthly electric bill credit of between $5-$15 from community solar.
- Everyday strategies and tips to help you manage your energy costs.
Q: How does the monthly electric bill credit from community solar work?
A: As an EmPower New York participant, you may receive credits on your monthly electric bills from community solar, where available. There is no cost or future obligations, and this will not impact any assistance you may already be receiving from HEAP or a utility bill assistance program. Nothing is installed at your home- community solar is a group of panels that are installed at a site in your community rather than on individual roofs. Please be aware that community solar project may not be available in all areas.
You may opt-out of receiving the community solar electric bill credits by calling 877-NY-SMART (877-697-6278) and speaking with a customer service representative.
Q: What are some services that EmPower New York does not provide?
A: EmPower NY does not provide:
- Generally roofs, windows, doors, and stoves.
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.
Q: Do the contractors perform code inspections?
A: No—EmPower New York contractors are not code inspectors.
Q: Can I hire my own contractor?
A: No—we assign all work to a predefined list of program-approved contractors. These contractors are qualified and credentialed by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), 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.
Q: Can I get paid back for work I have already performed?
A: No—EmPower New York cannot fund work that has already been completed.
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.
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 in order to provide you with a more comprehensive work project.
Q: Does my landlord have to pay anything?
A: If an eligible tenant 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 upgrade to be installed. A landlord investment may be required for certain upgrades or if EmPower New York is providing energy services to multiple units in a building.
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.
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.
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 and the most cost-effective option for saving energy. New refrigerators are white and do not include automatic defrost or ice/water dispensers. The makes and models are program-approved and are not chosen by the program participant.
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.
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.
Q: Who will be working on my EmPower New York project?
A: There is an entire team working to ensure that you receive the best services possible.
- NYSERDA administers the EmPower New York program.
- CLEAResult is the implementation contractor that coordinates the delivery of services to your household from the application process through the installation of upgrades in your home.
- A program approved energy contractor will install the energy improvements.
- IBTS and Honeywell are the quality assurance contractors that ensure energy upgrades were installed in the best possible way to save you the most energy.
Q: Who do I contact if I have more questions?
A: Please don’t hesitate to call 1-877-NYSMART for more information.