A state program which helps lower-income residents with their energy needs has made an impact in the year and a half it has been offered in the city, and is seeking to aid more.
New Jersey Comfort Partners has assisted approximately 250 Bayonne families since July 2014, when it became available to the city, according to Yuriy Polonsky, owner of NYS Energy Audits, one of five companies with state-approved contracts.
The program is funded by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and is part of New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program. Public Service Electric & Gas is the program administrator.
“Every year the BPU dedicates a certain amount for the services that we provide for New Jersey residents,” Polonsky said.
His company began the program in Union City, and after being approved for Bayonne, has now begun serving other Hudson County municipalities: Guttenberg, Hoboken, North Bergen, Secaucus, Weehawken, and West New York,
More than 100,000 people have been helped with their energy needs statewide since the program launched in 2001.
New Jersey Comfort Partners assists qualified lower-income New Jersey residents to make their houses or apartments more energy efficient, according to Polonsky. This could include insulation of walls and attics or winterization of windows, doors, and basements. Many of those services are done free of charge.
“They paid for all of it. I didn’t pay a thin dime.” – Elisa Tomczak
The program helps residents with things like refrigerators, gas stoves, air conditioning units, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, thermostats, boilers, water heaters, and roofs.
“We fix many roofs when leaking,” Polonsky said. “We will fix it if the resident qualifies.”
Lower heating bills
Residents in the program save between 25 and 30 percent on their heating bills and between 12 and 15 percent on their electric bills. According to the program, the average household saves between $5,000 and $10,000, and in some instances participants have saved up to $30,000.
“A lot of people are very, very happy with this program,” Polonsky said. “They say it becomes much more comfortable in the house; warmer in the winter and cooler during the summer. And they save substantially on their bills.”
Elisa Tomczak got involved with the program after seeing information about it in the Bayonne Community News about a year and a half ago.
“We had our attic insulated. We had doors and windows sealed so we don’t get any draft,” Tomczak said. “They changed out our light bulbs for the energy-efficient bulbs. On a couple of faucets and on our showerhead, they put aerators so we use less water.”
Her family was able to get a new refrigerator because they had an older model that wasn’t as energy efficient as ones now available.
“They paid for all of it. I didn’t pay a thin dime,” she said.
Tomczak also had a boiler issue that was resolved. A valve went bad, but the warranty was still good.
“They were able to have a plumber come in and replace the valve and that didn’t cost me anything either,” she said. “Who knows how much that would have cost if it wasn’t under warranty, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Polonsky said, “The mayor’s been amazing in terms of helping us to promote the program.”
Office location and hours
NYS Energy’s Bayonne office for New Jersey Comfort Partners program opened last month at 472 Broadway, corner of 22nd Street. Bayonne residents with questions can stop by and fill out a one-page application form. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The company can also be reached toll free at (855) 333-9191.
Those who receive assistance from the Universal Service Fund automatically qualify, Polonsky said.
For more information about BPU-sponsored programs and to check eligibility, visit njcleanenergy.com/residential/home/home.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.