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HeatSmart CNY Comes to Cortland

Village of Homer passes supporting resolution as local events are scheduled to teach Cortland residents about clean heating and cooling solutions

Expensive annual heating and cooling bills are becoming a thing of the past for many homes and buildings in the Central New York region with the new HeatSmart CNY campaign.  This two-year community-based campaign is helping homeowners and businesses install ground source (“geothermal”) and air source heat pumps designed for cold climates, as well as heat pump water heaters. These heating and cooling technologies make living more comfortable and environmentally sustainable, while in many cases slashing energy costs.

The Village of Homer publicly announced its support for HeatSmart CNY when it recently passed a resolution acknowledging the campaign.

Town of Homer Mayor Hal McCabe remarked, “HeatSmart CNY provides an excellent opportunity for Homer to enhance its commitment as a Climate Smart Community and Green Energy partner. The Board looks forward in promoting this campaign to all those that wish to curtail their fossil fuel footprint.”

HeatSmart CNY will be hosting two geothermal open houses in June, providing the public opportunities to view heat pumps up close and ask questions of homeowners who have made the switch. HeatSmart CNY provides information about the millions of dollars in incentives that New York State is offering to help homes and businesses improve their heating systems. HeatSmart events also connect interested residents to reputable installers who will provide no-cost site assessments to anyone who signs up to the campaign. Campaign staff and volunteers will help residents navigate their options at every step of the way. The campaign also has additional grants available for low-income residents who install heat pumps.

  • On June 9 from 2-4:30 p.m., Ellen Ketchum and Joe Pullman will open their home in Truxton to show off their geothermal system.
  • On June 30 from 2-4:30 p.m., HeatSmart CNY will be touring the McClure home in Preble. The McClures’ old furnace failed over the winter; Halco installed a temporary electric furnace while their geothermal system was installed in the middle of the polar vortex.

Both homes featured in upcoming open houses also have solar photovoltaic panels, demonstrating how heat pumps can be paired with renewable electricity.

“Summer is the best time to make smart choices about upgrading cooling and heating systems,” explains Lindsay Speer, from Alliance for a Green Economy, who serves as Campaign Manager for HeatSmart CNY. “If you wait until your furnace breaks in the middle of winter, you have fewer options and may lose the opportunity to switch to a more efficient system. We owe it to our families to educate ourselves and consider our options.”

Typical homes using expensive oil or propane heat save $1,500-1,800 per year in fuel costs when they switch to heat pumps. Homes using inefficient baseboard electric and those still using coal are also excellent candidates for switching. Interested property owners can attend any of the free community workshops to enroll in the program or can enroll on-line at

To help with the costs of installing a new system, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently increased the incentives available for air source heat pumps to $1,000 per ton for whole-home systems. Geothermal systems are incentivized at $1,500 per ton. Most homes need approximately 3-5 tons to adequately size the system for the house. HeatSmart CNY provides additional $2,000 for air source system incentives to households making less than 80 percent of the area median income. That amount increases to $7,500 for geothermal systems.

Many homeowners in Cortland are already making the switch. At 89 years old, former SUNY Cortland President James Clark will install a geothermal system in his home this June, an old schoolhouse in Cortland.

“My primary reason was economic,” Clark explained, “I’m currently paying $5000-6000/year for fuel oil for heating. With the new geothermal system I expect to spend only $1500/year for electricity for heating and cooling.”

Matt Dennis, a Cortland resident and Halco installer, hosted an open house on May 26th for the ductless mini-split heat pump system in his home. “Cold climate air source heat pumps work fine in Central New York, running efficiently down to -13℉ and below. We don’t need backup heat. We were comfortable through the polar vortex this January.”

HeatSmart CNY is organized by the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board (CNY RPDB), Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE), with support from NYSERDA and a team of volunteers. Three participating installer teams were selected through a competitive process in October 2019. These include Snug Planet, Ground Up (A.C.E.S. Energy and Geotherm, Inc.) and Halco.  Anyone living in Cortland, Cayuga, Oswego, Madison, or Onondaga Counties can participate in the program.