The heat is high, but your energy bills don’t have to be

It was President Obama who once said "Insulation is sexy stuff."

Your windows are letting the air conditioning out, your light bulbs are wearing out too fast and your energy bills are through the roof. These problems are all connected, and they can be alleviated with some help from our pals who work for New York State government (seriously). There are lots of great FREE programs to save on your energy bills at home, but many are exclusively for home owners or landlords. For those of us brokesters who rent our apartments (uh, like all of us), here are the programs that we can apply for directly.

EmPower New York is a service for low income New Yorkers where an accredited contractor will come to your home and do a FREE energy assessment. You’ll also get FREE improvements to your home that will lower energy bills. You might also score some new light bulbs, sexy insulation and a free fridge!!! For real! The catch is you have to be earning less than 60% of the median New York State income, which is $2,146 a month for one person.

The Weatherization Assistance Program is a similar to EmPower in scope, and equivalent in income qualifications, but it is administered through certain nonprofit partner organizations. The focus is more on heating and cooling, but providers will still give you all of the free advice and resources to improve lighting and appliance efficiency–the bulbs, sexy insulation, and free fridge. They also look for issues that could lead to mold growth or exposure to lead paint!

The eligibility period for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) just passed, but it’s worth mentioning for next season, which begins November 1 and ends April 15. If you pay for your own heating bills, HEAP can alleviate the cost — usually by $20 or $25 a month! The income eligibility is the same for EmPower, so check out its income eligibility chart before applying.

Lastly, you should enter your zip code in the New York State Public Service Commission’s website to get current listings of incentive programs and rebates that you could be eligible for through federal and state government, and through your local utilities.

Follow @RachelEveStein for abbreviated musings on ethical quandaries and Gowanus happenings.