NEWARK—Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) announced last week it is offering free home energy audits and free or low-cost energy conservation measures to eligible customers in the 25 Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) municipalities located in the utility’s service territory.
At a Sustainable Jersey panel discussion held at the New Jersey League of Municipalities’ 94th Annual Conference in Atlantic City, Al Matos, PSE&G’s vice president of Renewables and Energy Solutions, advised mayors and municipal officials that the utility is expanding its popular residential energy efficiency programs and encouraged them to spread the word. Until now, the programs were available to customers in Trenton and Newark.
“The utility is investing nearly $40 million on programs to help residential customers save energy in their homes,” Matos said. “Customers often shy away from the up front costs of investing in much needed efficiencies, and today’s economy makes such investments even more difficult. PSE&G is proud of its 106-year history of providing universal access to electricity and gas, and we see it as a natural extension of that role to help our customers enjoy the same access to energy efficiency and renewables.”
The home energy audits are part of the utility’s Carbon Abatement and Energy Efficiency Economic Stimulus initiatives approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to boost the economy, help customers save energy and money and create “green” jobs.
PSE&G has begun sending letters to eligible homeowners encouraging them to register for the program. Tenants may apply for audits as well, provided they have their landlord’s permission.
Under the residential initiative, customers who qualify will be offered a three-step program to boost their homes’ energy efficiency. The first two steps are free and include an in-home energy audit, a blower-door test to identify air leaks around the home, an appliance safety test, a programmable thermostat and eight hours of weatherization including caulking, door sweeps, and attic air sealing. Incentives, based on income, are available in the third step of the program for the installation of additional energy efficiency measures such as attic insulation and the upgrading of heating and cooling equipment.
New “green jobs” in urban communities are being created as the result of the new programs. The utility has plans to fill up to 100 energy auditor and air sealing positions over the next year, with 41 individuals having already been hired. Twenty-one full- and part-time positions have been created so far in community development and nonprofit organizations that are assisting PSE&G in identifying eligible homes.
Information about the efficiency programs is available online at www.pseg.com/wholehouse, by calling 1-800-854-4444, and by visiting one of PSE&G’s 16 customer service centers.
PSE&G Residential Whole House Program
The PSE&G Residential Whole House Efficiency Program provides eligible homeowners and tenants with free or low-cost energy saving services in three simple steps. The home energy audits are free, and improvements will be performed by crews trained by PSE&G to perform this work.
PSE&G customers living in 1 – 4 family homes in the following municipalities may be eligible for free residential home energy audits: Bayonne, Camden, Carteret, East Orange, Elizabeth, Gloucester City, Guttenberg, Hillside, Irvington, Jersey City, Kearny, Mt. Holly, New Brunswick, Newark, North Bergen, Orange, Passaic, Paterson, Pemberton, Perth Amboy, Plainfield, Roselle, Trenton, Union City, West New York.
A participant must be a PSE&G customer of record with a separately metered electric or gas account. Tenants may participate, but landlord permission is required.
Eligible customers receive up to $1,400 in free services from PSE&G that include an energy audit, testing to detect air leaks, air-sealing to prevent energy loss, appliance safety testing and information about energy efficiency. Audit report results are given to the customer, who may then choose to install recommended energy efficiency measures.
• Step one includes a free in-home energy audit and the installation of up to 10 compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
• Step two includes a second in-home visit, during which free home health and safety testing is conducted as well as up to eight hours of weatherization services. Those services may include air-sealing, caulking, weather-stripping, and a programmable thermostat.
• In step two the customer also receives a detailed audit report explaining the results of the audit and a list of recommended energy savings upgrades that could include such measures as installing attic insulation or upgrading the heating system.
• For customers who choose to pursue step three, a PSE&G-authorized contractor will visit the home and provide cost estimates for the work to be completed.
• Steps one and two are offered free of charge. The cost for step three depends on the energy efficiency measures recommended by the audit, the cost of those measures and the customer’s household income.
• PSE&G pays all up-front costs for the work with customers repaying their share, interest free, over five years in their PSE&G bill or in one payment if they choose.
• Customers with family income between 225 percent and 400 percent of the federal income guidelines will be required to repay 20 percent of the cost of Step three measures. For example, a family of four with an annual income up to $88,200 would be eligible for a 20 percent repayment.
• Customers with a family income above 400 percent of the federal income guidelines will be responsible for 50 percent of the cost of installed energy efficiency measures.
• Customers with income levels below 225 percent of the Federal Income Guidelines will be referred to other programs, including the Comfort Partners and state Weatherization Assistance programs.
• Repayment will be made over five years through a fixed monthly charge on a customer’s utility bill. If the home is landlord owned, the landlord will be billed for the cost of the efficiency measures.
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