Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why should I participate in the Residential Existing Homes program?
A: When you participate you are making an investment in your company and in your employees that can open new doors for potential customers and services you provide.

When you align your business with the Residential Existing Homes 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.

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

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 participating contractor, you will be growing your business along with marketplace demands. As a BPI GoldStar Contractor, 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 contractor can find a listing on the NYSERDA website or by calling 866-NYSERDA. You can search the Contractor Profile PageLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. by zip code to find contractors that provide services in your area.

Top of Page

Q: How do I sign up?
A: Your company must first become a Building Performance Institute GoldStar Contractor. Then you will read and sign a Participation Agreement with NYSERDA, which outlines program guidelines and contractor responsibilities.

Top of Page

Q: Why do I have to be a BPI GoldStar Contractor?
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 have GoldStar status. To be participate, 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: Each training organization has its own instructional staff, a schedule of classes, and it markets those classes to prospective students. The training that students receive is typically recognized by the Building Performance Institute (BPI)Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., Residential Energy Services Network (RESNETLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.), National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORALink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.), North American Technician Excellence, Inc. (NATELink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAELink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBCLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.), and National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLPLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.). Training helps prepare students to take certification exams. Training courses are offered through several community colleges, BOCES, trade associations and other training/education providers throughout New York State. Learn about training opportunities near you.

Top of Page

Q: Why do I have to buy special equipment?
A: The specialized equipment used in a home energy assessment ensures that the energy assessment 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.

Top of Page

Q: What type of support does the program offer after training?
A: We offer programmatic and technical assistance after you become a participating contractor.

Top of Page

Q: What software do I need to have for reporting requirements?
A: All energy calculations 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 assessment 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 assessment 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 assessment, a contractor receives a cash incentive based on of the cost of eligible work. This incentive is paid directly by NYSERDA to the contractor.

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 list of eligible energy improvements [PDF] for determining eligibility in the Assisted Home Performance program. Upgrades that are listed as prequalified have passed the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test as required by the Public Service Commission.

Additional upgrades on the list of eligible energy improvements may qualify for the Smart Energy Loans and On-Bill Recovery Loans if they meet cost effectiveness requirements.

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. Contractors will receive a report showing the results of each inspection, which identifies work done well and 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: Contractors must complete and report at least 12 projects, and/or at least $48,000 in eligible work annually.

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, CLEAResult. You can call upon CLEAResult for ongoing training questions and support.

Top of Page

Q: What kind of marketing material and resources are available to educate consumers?
A: NYSERDA provides participating contractors with a variety of marketing materials to educate consumers, such as fact sheets, brochures, and case studies.

Top of Page

Q: What kind of program advertising or support is planned?
A: NYSERDA provides advertising throughout the year to promote the program. NYSERDA uses marketing mediums such as online advertising. NYSERDA also developed materials contractors can use to assist in their business development and sales processes.

Top of Page

Q: Free assessments don’t necessarily bring in qualified customers. Does NYSERDA help me convert assessments to actual work?
A: NYSERDA has an active marketing campaign to show homeowners the value of acting on home energy assessments. You will see materials 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 5-10 percent of the cost of eligible work. After your project is completed, you should receive payment in about four 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 contractors perform this research on behalf of their customers as a service to ensure customer retention.

The 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