Solar 9426

Solar panels on the roof of CEAC member Asha Bencosme’s home.

Homeowners interested in saving the planet, and money, received tips during a Zoom presentation on Feb. 11 entitled “Ardsley CAN by 2030! Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint.”

The presentation was produced by the Village of Ardsley’s Conservation and  Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC). CEAC chair Eda Kapsis and vice chair Asha Bencosme were joined by fellow board members Carol Sommerfield and Dave Lew, as well as Ardsley High School students Michael Fischgrund and Alina Jolie-Randolph.

Kapsis provided a short history of the adults’ challenges with their own homes due to poor insulation and/or heating systems. Sommerfield, for example, had such terrible drafts in her 1925 Colonial that when the wind blew outside, her hair blew inside.

Based on data from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the UC Berkeley-based Food Climate Network, CEAC determined that private homes account for 21 percent of Ardsley’s annual carbon emissions of 66 metric tons. CEAC aims to halve that total over the next nine years, in line with the New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), a recent law with a goal of zero emissions by 2050.  

“These changes can’t be made overnight, so we want to prepare now,” Kapsis explained, advising homeowners to “electrify everything because New York State wants to make the electrical grid a renewable power grid.” 

Kapsis recommended the use of heat pumps. The most common are air-source heat pumps, which transfer heat into a building during the winter and out of a building during the summer, all with zero emissions. She also touted heat pump water heaters, which pull heat from the surrounding air to warm the water inside the tank.

As for financial incentives, Kapsis cited rebates, tax credits, redemptions, and low-cost loans as enticements to switch over to renewable-energy appliances. She directed viewers to the websites for Sustainable Westchester the IRS, and Con Edison. 

“There are tremendous opportunities as you’re looking to make changes within your home that are important to leverage so that you’re not leaving money on the table,” Kapsis said. “There’s financial help to move to sustainability, and New York State has done a really great job of making sure that those incentives make sense for the homeowner.”

Following Kapsis were briefer but more-detailed talks by her colleagues. Viewers were advised to get a free energy audit from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). They were reminded that the calamity of a broken-down or worn-out appliance is an opportunity to trade up. Recommeded items included electric tankless water heaters, solar panels, sheep’s wool insulation, and geothermal windows. Less expensive or free solutions were also suggested, such as low-flow shower heads, plastic window treatments or curtains to block drafts, cleaning or changing filters, using the AC less, and placing fans strategically.

The presentation was followed by a Q&A in which CEAC members fielded multiple questions. Kapsis announced that Sommerfield created a website for Ardsley CAN (www.ardsleycan.org). CEAC will host another carbon reduction presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. To sign up, go to ardsleyvillage.com/ceac.

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