Whenever my friend from Canada and I get together, after we catch each other up on the family news we often segue into grocery prices.

“Philadelphia cream cheese, $6!” I say. She volleys back: “$10 for a cantaloupe!”

It doesn’t matter where you live, inflation is showing few signs of letting up. I’m hopeful that the Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Congress last year, will at least help provide energy relief while reducing carbon pollution.

The Inflation Reduction Act is a huge deal and everyone should be aware of the funding available for energy efficiency and clean-energy upgrades. You can estimate your benefits at rewiringamerica.org. For example, a family of four living in Philipstown with a household income of $90,000 could be eligible for $14,000 in upfront discounts, $7,050 in tax credits and an estimated annual energy bill savings of $1,150.

To get the word out, Joe Montuori, executive director of Sustainable Putnam, is making the rounds of local libraries. He gave his first presentation in Carmel and jokes it was a full house with 15 people — that was the capacity of the room. He will speak at the Desmond-Fish Public Library in Garrison on March 11.

Montuori says the audience in Carmel was strictly residents interested in reducing energy use and saving money. Although one woman was happy to learn she was entitled to a $500 tax credit for insulating her attic, he says most of the questions were about heat pumps and reflected confusion about ground source (geothermal) and air-sourced (ducted and ductless units also known as mini-splits).

There was also the false claim that heat pumps don’t work in winter, especially in the northeastern climate. Homeowners, let alone architects and contractors, have not kept up with the technology.

Montuori says that, unlike past incentives offered for solar, the Inflation Reduction Act funding is established for the next 10 years. That means “you can plan out how to decarbonize to maximize the tax credits,” he notes. “For instance, you could get a hot water heater one year, and the following year get a heat pump.”

More importantly, money will be available upfront for people with low and moderate incomes. “This will be much more accessible to everyone,” he says.

The list of home improvements that will be eligible for funding is long. It includes weatherization (insulating and sealing homes); electrical panel upgrades; Energy Star appliances (e.g., replacing a gas stove with induction); electric vehicles and home-charging stations; heat pumps for heating, cooling and hot water; and solar panels and battery backup systems.

Recognizing that it can be daunting to figure out where to start, Sustainable Putnam created a step-by-step guide at sustainableputnam.org. It also offers free consultations.

“I want everyone to know how they can reduce their costs, be more comfortable at home, have healthier homes with clean air and know that we are doing something good for the climate, our children and our grandchildren,” Montuori says.

Behind The Story

Type: Opinion

Opinion: Advocates for ideas and draws conclusions based on the author/producer’s interpretation of facts and data.

Ford, who lives in Garrison, is The Current's Living Green columnist and coordinator for the Town of Philipstown's Climate Smart Communities program.