ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York is putting nearly $60 million into a loan fund for homeowners to get free or lower-cost audits of their energy use and money for projects to stop their houses from leaking heat.

Established under so-called “green jobs” legislation last year, the program is meant to seed work to cut New Yorkers’ consumption of oil, natural gas and electricity.

It authorizes free energy audits for those with incomes up to 200 percent of the median income in their county. The revolving loan fund lets homeowners use the money they save on utility bills to pay back loans for work like sealing or replacing windows, insulating and installing more efficient furnaces.

Audits range in price depending on the contractor and area. One recently cost $350 in Albany, where the median household income was listed at $75,500.

The program also promises reduced priced energy audits available to households with incomes up to 400 percent of an area’s median income. For Albany, that would be $302,000.

The median household income for five boroughs of New York City was listed at $62,300. That means those with incomes below $124,600 would be eligible for free energy audits, and households with incomes under $249,200 could get reduced-price energy, according to the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.

A similar loan program for small businesses, not-for-profits and multifamily buildings will start sometime next year, said Jeffrey Gordon, spokesman for NYSERDA. He said the agency plans to issue bonds against the $60 million in the loan fund to make more funding available.

The loans are available to households of all incomes, Gordon said.

Unsecured residential loans will be capped at $13,000 for terms of five, 10 or 15 years and offered at an initial interest rate of 3.99 percent, or 3.49 percent if the borrower signs up for automated monthly payments, according to NYSERDA.

The new law also establishes a training program meant to teach displaced workers to do energy audits and improve homes and businesses to cut their usage.

It has $112 million in seed funding from the auction of carbon emission credits, plus an $18.6 million federal grant meant to leverage private investment, the agency said.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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