Easy ways to keep skyrocketing energy prices in check

Paige also said an easy change to make is repairing all leaky faucets. NYSERDA reports that one drop per second can waste as much as 10 gallons of water in a week.

Ryan said NYSERDA has invested a lot of time into coming up with ways that people can make simple changes every day, like air-drying clothes, to save energy. She said it is all part of Gov. David Paterson's efforts to implement the recommendations of his renewable energy task force and his policy to reduce energy consumption 15 percent by 2015.

Ryan said NYSERDA also has a number of programs to help residents reduce their energy costs.

Some of the programs include Home Performance with Energy Star for existing homes. In this program, an accredited contractor performs a whole-house assessment to identify where the building is losing energy and why. The contractor then makes recommendations on how to improve the energy efficiency of the home. They also provide a cost estimate to do the improvements, and can even do the work themselves.

Ryan said the www.getenergysmart.org Web site could walk homeowners through the Home Performance process so they know exactly what to expect. The site also provides a listing of accredited Home Performance contractors throughout New York.

With today's economy, there are some families who are struggling to pay to keep the lights on. Low-interest Energy Star financing is offered through the program. There are conditions, such as a limit on the loan of $15,000 to $20,000, depending on the homeowner's credit score, and a term of three to ten years. This is an unsecured loan, not a second mortgage or equity loan.

Another option is the New York Energy Smart Loan Fund. Energy Smart loans are offered through a number of participating financial institutions. Loans may be unsecured for up to $20,000, and the interest rate is bought down by up to 4 percent for up to 10 years.

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