BRONX — For years, Aurelia Greene and her elderly mother shivered through the winters in her drafty, 98-year-old house on Teller Avenue in Melrose.
Finally, Greene, who is the Deputy Bronx Borough President, decided this December to have her home retrofitted with new insulation, windows and piping.
Now, she says, her 96-year-old mother complains the house is too warm.
“I’ve been able to turn down the thermostat,” Greene says, “and I’ve finally been able to get some comfort in my own home.”
Greene showed off her energy-saving home upgrades Tuesday as part of a push by the Borough President’s office to encourage Bronx residents to take advantage of a statewide program that helps home and building owners pay for energy audits and retrofits.
Small businesses, not-for-profits and households with salaries lower than $128,400 qualify for free home energy audits under the program, dubbed Green Jobs – Green New York.
Building owners who choose to make recommended energy improvements can receive low-interest loans. Other subsidies are available for low-income households.
Homeowners who invest in the energy retrofits, meanwhile, can expect to save an average of 20 to 30 percent on their energy bills, said Cynthia Ngombe, outreach coordinator for Sustainable South Bronx, an environmental organization. The borough president’s office tapped the nonprofit to spread word of the program throughout the Bronx.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said that in addition to helping Bronxites save money, the program will conserve resources and decrease the borough’s carbon output.
“I think the most important thing is that it will help us to protect Mother Earth,” Diaz said Tuesday.
Afterward, Greene, who previously represented the Bronx’s 77th District in the State Assembly for 27 years, invited a small crowd into her house to check out her energy improvements.
Greene said she has lived in her 3,900 square-foot walkup on Teller Avenue between East 168th and 169th streets since 1962. Last December, at her daughter’s prompting, Greene contacted Sustainable South Bronx, who arranged an energy audit for her home.
Mario Viscovich, an energy consultant who is president of Apex Engineering, P.C., advised her to add new insulation to the walls and attic, install several new windows and a programmable thermostat, and fix certain pipes.
Viscovich said the average price of a retrofit ranges from $7,000 to $12,000. In Greene’s case, the improvements set her back $25,000. She said that for her house — where winter heating bills can reach $2,000 — the fixes were worth the cost.
“It’s an investment,” she said. “You save on oil, electricity, all those things.”
The energy program was established by a law passed by the State Legislature in 2009. The state recently awarded the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation $511,460 to spend over the next two years to implement the program in the Bronx.
The organization set a goal for 1,200 Bronx building owners to receive energy audits by 2014, and a quarter of those owners to implement retrofits, said energy program manager, Kate Shackford.
For further information, contact Shackford at 718-590-3498, or firstname.lastname@example.org.