Don’t Let Old Man Winter Sap Your Energy, Heat And Cash

by Michele S. Byers, executive director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation

As fall turns to winter and temperatures plunge, we remember how expensive it is to heat our homes.  But you may not know that the New Jersey Office of Clean Energy (NJOCE) can help homeowners increase the energy efficiency of their homes.  An energy efficient home is less expensive home to heat.

Heating and cooling accounts for roughly 30 to 50 percent of the average home’s energy consumption, so the potential savings are nothing to sneeze at!


For maximum savings, go for a “whole house” solution.  Get an energy-efficiency audit by a specially trained and certified contractor.  They will inspect your home from top to bottom and assess the efficiency of heating/cooling equipment, appliances, insulation, windows, doors and lighting.  The Office of Clean Energy has partnered with the federal Energy Star program to make these audits easily available.

Energy audit fees for eligible homeowners can be as low as $125.  Spend $2,000 on the recommended energy-saving enhancements within three months and the fee is reimbursed.  Homeowners may also qualify for up to $10,000 cash back and zero-interest loans on air sealing measures, insulation, high efficiency heating and cooling equipment, and Energy Star qualified appliances and lighting.

Low-income families can qualify for a personalized plan and free installation of energy saving measures like efficient lighting, hot water heating, thermostats, insulation, duct sealing, air sealing or heating and cooling equipment.

Short of a complete energy audit, you can get up to $400 back by updating your heating equipment.  Customers of New Jersey Natural Gas, South Jersey Gas or Elizabethtown Gas may also qualify for an additional $900 rebate from their energy supplier.  Depending on the age of your current heating system, a modern system may be as much as 30 percent more efficient.

By updating your appliances, you can save even more.  For example, NJOCE offers a $75 rebate on eligible Energy Star qualified washing machines.  Customers of Atlantic City Electric, Jersey Central Power & Light, PSE&G or Rockland Electric Company can also get $30 cash back for recycling old, working refrigerators and freezers.

Finally, one of the least expensive and most effective steps is to swap out your old manual thermostat for a programmable one that allows you to reduce the temperature when you’re not at home, and raise it again before you come home. Increase your savings even more by lowering the temperature while you sleep.

Check out or call 866-NJSMART (866-657-6278) for more information on saving energy and money this winter.  Do it now, before winter reaches its cold fingers into your wallet!

And I hope you will consult New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s website at or contact me at, if you would like more information about conserving New Jersey’s precious land and natural resources.

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