The Energy Navigators: Sustainable Energy Superheroes

By   |   Clean Power Guide

With all the options available in today’s market for heating, cooling, home energy efficiency, smart energy gadgets, battery storage, solar generation, community solar, and more, you might be asking yourself, “Where do I start?”

Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) is here for you. Energy advisors with CCE Dutchess and Sullivan Counties are available to assist renters, homeowners, small businesses, and nonprofits throughout the Mid-Hudson region with energy improvements—especially anyone facing financial hardship or with limited income.

Bob and Michelle of Clinton Corners had known for some time that their aging heating and cooling system was in need of replacement. Though their insulation was good, it felt like any year could be the one where the heating system finally gives up. On a fixed budget, the prospect of being able to make the most efficient and sustainable choice felt out of reach.

Before meeting an energy advisor at a regular volunteer gathering, Bob and Michelle were unaware of the energy efficiency programs available. Over meetings, phone calls, and emails, they worked with their energy advisor to understand their estimates, prepare their application for financial assistance, and arrive at an affordable package which included a cold climate heat pump for their first and second floors, a 50-gallon hybrid water heater, and piping insulation to keep the whole system operating efficiently.

Once they learned that they could receive guidance throughout the entire process, the entire project felt less overwhelming and finally achievable. They commented, “For some people, talking to contractors is like speaking in a foreign language. We were thrilled to death to find out that there were energy advisors to keep us organized and inform us of funds available for people like us—funds that people don’t often know about.”

Our resources continue to grow with the expansion of the Energy Navigator program. Local, knowledgeable volunteers are learning a wide array of energy topics and how to use a neighbor-to-neighbor approach to help people in their communities understand and lower their energy use and switch from fossil fuels to renewables. With all the incentive programs and supports available in New York State, now is a great time to take a fresh look at your home energy use.

Connect with your local energy advisor at Midhudsonenergychoices.org and learn about cost-saving programs. For more information on volunteering as an Energy Navigator, contact Hazel Robin at [email protected].

Collin D. Adkins is the environment and energy resource educator and energy advisor with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County.

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