Sustainable Putnam

3. Weatherize your home or business

Weatherizing refers to the process of sealing your building against air leaks and insulate against the loss of heating or cooling energy.

Although many people believe their building is already well-insulated, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 90% of all American buildings require additional sealing and insulation.

It’s a good idea to get a professional energy audit to find out if your building is an exception.

Next, have the recommended weatherization work completed. If the price of insulating seems high, consider the rising price of energy. As energy pioneer Amory Lovins likes to say, “The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use.”

Learn more below.

Schedule an Energy Audit

NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research & Development Agency is an excellent resource for all kinds of energy resources. In fact, NYSERDA’s Home Energy Efficiency Programs offers free residential energy audits and income eligible discounts for energy efficiency improvements.

The most complete audits include a blower door test, and a thermographic inspection. Blower door tests determine air infiltration: how much air is moving from inside to outside and vice versa, measured in cubic feet per minute. Thermographic inspections help detect air leakage due to poor sealing, and heat losses due to poor insulation.  You can learn more at Energy.gov.

Note that the NYSERDA  free audit doesn’t require these tests, so you may have to pay additional fees to obtain them. We think it’s well worth the cost because they provide a measurement of your building envelope’s performance. After your building is weatherized, you can use that baseline measurement against subsequent tests to ensure quality work was performed.

Note that many NYSERDA-authorized contractors are also qualified to provide sealing and insulating services — but you’re not obligated to get both services from the same contractor.  To get started, click below to visit NYSERDA Home Energy Efficiency Programs.

Sealing & Insulating

Once your audit is completed, your contractor will provide you with estimates for recommended sealing and insulating work. Remember that you can get additional estimates for the same recommended work from other contractors. Choosing a contractor that inspires confidence may be worth spending more for a job well done.

Remember also that you do not need to have all of the recommended work performed right away, or ever. Feel free to choose, for example, to insulate the attic this year, but hold off on insulating the walls until later. (Of course, prices may increase if you break it down, or if you wait, and the longer you wait, the more you delay your savings.)

New York State and the federal government provide some assistance to subsidize this work through upfront rebates and tax credits. Click the Incentives Calculator button at Rewiring America to determine your potential federal benefits. 

Click the NYSERDA Comfort Home program button below. It offers discounted “seal and insulate” packages through its qualified contractors. And later in 2023, the federal Inflation Reduction Act will provide upfront incentives and tax credits up to $1,200 for weatherization work.

Finding a Local Contractor

As with any major home improvement, you should get estimates from at least three solar contractors. Go online to NYSERDA’s  to find companies and receive free estimates, or use the links below to several companies that work locally. 

Finally, be sure you’re comfortable with the contractor’s staff before you sign a contract. Look at reviews on more than one website and check the Better Business Bureau website as well.

Below is a short list of local contractors from the NYSERDA-approved contractor list:

You can find additional NYSERDA-approved contractors by clicking the Find a Contractor button below.