Energy upgrades don't have to cost your building a ton of money

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By now, we've all heard about how energy-efficient air conditioners and washer/dryers can save us money, but why not think bigger? The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, a so-called public benefit corporation aimed at helping New Yorkers conserve energy, has a slew of financial incentives to help offset the cost of making your building more environmentally friendly. 

Here are a few big-ticket items from a roundup in DNAinfo, along with the incentives offered and the time it reportedly takes to break even on your investment.

Brand new lighting

Incentive: For buildings that are larger than 50,000 square feet, ConEd will cover about 20 percent of the cost of replacing the lights and also offers $15 rebates for smaller jobs. 

Payback time: About two years

Rooftop solar panels

Incentive: A relatively small-scale solar project can cost about $26,250 to install, but between city, state and federal tax credits, plus a NYSERDA incentive, you could wind up spending only about $6,000.

Payback time: Three to five years

Wind turbines

Incentive: NYSERDA—which just approved its first small wind project in the city at Long Island City's Pearson Court Square rentals—​offers rebates that cover almost 50 percent of the total cost. (Note: The Pearson Court Square project cost $100,000).

Payback time: Under 10 years. But sometimes the installation costs so much it's not worth doing the project (especially if, for example, a crane is needed to hoist up the turbines).

Roof to rafters retrofit

Incentive: As part of its "multi-family performance program," NYSERDA will pay up to $1,000 per apartment for energy upgrades in buildings of four stories or more. If the building cuts energy use by 15 percent, it's eligible for a bonus of up to $300 per unit. 

Payback time: Less than six years


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