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The Finger Lakes Climate Fund will initially fund residential energy efficiency projects for low to moderate income households in the Finger Lakes region. The fund will help pay for insulation, air sealing, energy efficient heating equipment, and other upgrades to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The energy efficiency upgrades are carried out by Building Performance Institute accredited contractors using guidelines provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. These home energy efficiency projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support low income families, and help stimulate our local economy.

Project Verification Process

Verification ensures that carbon offset projects accurately calculate the amount of emissions that will be reduced as a result of the project. Through the Home Performance with Energy Star program, the residential energy efficiency projects follow industry best practices for estimating energy savings. Using guidelines provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the contractors follow a strict protocol for accurately predicting the long-term energy savings that will result from the home energy improvements. The energy saving estimates for the projects are also verified by a third party organization that makes sure the energy saving calculations are accurate. The Conservation Services Group partners with NYSERDA to review all energy saving calculations made by contractors to ensure that the calculations are accurate. This process ensures that your carbon offset donations are resulting in actual greenhouse gas emission reductions.


We are proud to present these profiles of the home owners that have benefited from Finger Lakes Climate Fund grants. Thanks to the many donors to the Fund, these local families will be less vulnerable to rising fossil fuel prices and better positioned to remain stable and secure property owners. Over the long term, everyone benefits – the donors, the homeowners, local energy contractors, and the community.

The Green Home

58 tons
The Climate Fund is helping babies be the most comfortable in their homes! Who would’ve thought!? Meet our 54th grant winners, the Green family! Pictured here is Claire and her dad (and landlord), Allen. Claire moved into a lovely downtown Ithaca apartment with her 2 year-old and husband at the beginning of the pandemic. They were so glad to return home to Ithaca after six years living on the West Coast. Allen wasn’t about to just replace this old fossil fuel machine with a new one. Equipped with knowledge from HeatSmart Tompkins (go, Jonathan Comstock!) he knew that Claire and her partner would income-qualify for the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and HeatSmart grants, as well as the state grants and utility rebates - even as tenants. Very cool! After a few contractors came by, they chose to work with NP Environmental. They were so pleased with their proposal and how much NP worked with them to create a plan that worked well for them. The Greens had a new air source heat pump system and heat pump water heater installed and couldn’t be happier today. They have been so thrilled with the low utility bills (even compared to cheap fracked gas) and the comfort in both warm and cold weather. Claire shared that the air conditioning was quite the surprising bonus, considering that she’d never had that in her home before. With a new baby in their family, Claire said the steady, consistent temperatures have been life-changing - “As a mom, that’s what you obsess over the most!” We were so glad to award the Green family $3,757 to help them install their new system and prevent 58.3 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

The Pothier/Jones Home

77 tons
Meet the hardiest people out there, the Pothier/Jones family! Chris and Geoff have lived in their family home in Brooktondale for the past 40 years. When they moved in, the furnace was already 30 years old! But, Geoff, as a mechanic, and the both of them, avid reusers and DIYers, they kept that bad boy maintained and working like a charm for 40 more years. However, it came to a point where they were ready to get off of fossil fuels completely, so they started attending workshops to learn more about the programs out there and what they could do, eager to do the right thing for the Earth. After connecting with Heatsmart, they decided to work with NP Environmental, who dug them a vertical well geothermal system for a new air source heat pump. While at it, they had a much-needed upgrade to their electrical system and even had an old, buried oil tank removed from their property. So far, they’ve been incredibly pleased with their heat pump - Chris said the heating is so much more consistent - no more of those frustrating hot and cold zones throughout the house! Despite all of this, they still keep their heat super low (sometimes even below 60F) and bundle up to save energy. Air conditioning isn’t even an option in the summer - Chris says, “if we sweat, we sweat! And it’s all okay.” They are here for a simple lifestyle and being gentle on the Earth. To help fund this project, we awarded our 62nd grant winners a $2,000 Heatsmart LMI incentive and a $1,921 carbon offset award to help them replace their gas furnace with clean heating and cooling - preventing 77 tons of CO2 from emitting into our atmosphere.

The Wishna Home

40 tons
New builds are abound! Meet Robyn, our 66th Climate Fund grant winner, local photographer and organizer for Spirit of Tompkins and the We are Ithaca project. As a very active community member, living in the Town of Enfield, we are so excited to help fund Robyn’s air source heat pump in her new home. Initially, she was going to install a propane tank, but Thom Mayo of Ethereal Energy suggested she install a heat pump instead - good going, Thom! We typically help homeowners convert from an existing older fossil fuel system, but for this special case, we estimated the propane consumption in a house of that square footage built to today's energy standards and based our offset award on that. In addition to the heat pump, Robyn is also building her new home so sustainably - with passive solar and triple-pane windows, reclaimed materials, energy recovery ventilation (ERV), and lots of insulation! As a result of preventing 40 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, Robyn is the winner of a $998 Climate Fund award plus a $2,000 LMI Heatsmart fund award. We can’t wait to see how her new place turns out!

The Bouma Home

80 tons
We love helping young families who are eagerly moving towards using fewer and fewer greenhouse gases. Meet the Boumas, our 65th Climate Fund grant winners! Based in downtown Ithaca, they started the process of looking for adequate air conditioning last year, after a very hot summer. Think there might be more of those ahead? You might be right. They didn’t have air conditioning and really suffered through it, especially as a very outdoorsy, active family. You can always find the kids outside playing soccer! They called Heatsmart Tompkins who pointed them to a few installers, and they ultimately worked with Dailey Electric to install a new air source heat pump, as well as a new heat pump water heater. Their new system was installed in May, and they reported that the indoor air temperature and air conditioning has been above and beyond their expectations - especially with this very humid summer. Congratulations to the Boumas for winning $4,300 towards this project - the $2,300 from the Heatsmart LMI program and $2,000 FLCF carbon offset award (goodbye 80 tons of CO2!). What a big step it is to shut off the gas line to your house and become fully electric!

The Butler Home

42 tons
Meet Neisha Butler, our 53rd grant winner! Neisha is a long-time member of our local sustainability movement and a founding member of the Sustainable Tompkins Mini-Grants Council. She and her young son currently reside in Groton and until recently, had been heating their home with propane for the past 10 years. Fortunately, her house was already well-insulated, so all she needed to do to green her home was get off propane. Neisha’s monthly bills had been very expensive and unpredictable year to year -- so she was ready to make the switch and reached out to Halco for some help. Already informed by her sustainability history and with the guidance of CCE Tompkins, Neisha closed the deal on a new high-efficiency air-source heat pump system. Halco connected her with our Climate Fund and HeatSmart grants and the state and utility incentives. Since the installation, she has been so reassured to know what to expect with her now-consistent bills, especially during the brutal winter of 20-21. Neisha’s been comfortable in her home with steady temperatures and has now educated herself on more ways to save energy and money in her home. We were so happy to help Neisha switch off of propane - removing 42 tons of CO2 - with a $3,057 combined Climate Fund and Heatsmart grant. She said she will be “forever grateful” for all the help in transitioning off fossil fuels.

The Glenn Home

294 tons
Daycare saved by the bell! Sarah Glenn was running her daycare business like a boss… until the cold months hit. She has lived in Hector for the past 9 years with her two young daughters, running a small farm (chickens, ducks, sheep, and more!) and her daycare, Alpine Children’s House. As a small business owner operating out of her own home, she especially needed reliable heating in the winter months to accommodate the needs of the young children she was caring for. However, their leaky, uninsulated 1850 farmhouse was not liveable. In the winter, they had to crowd into the one room with the woodstove to stay warm and closed off the second floor to keep the heat in. But then Halco and the Finger Lakes Climate Fund came along! Sarah applied to the Climate Fund, and was awarded $4,500 to install a new heat pump system and lots and lots of spray-foam insulation in the attic and basement. Sarah replaced her 6 cords of firewood a year with a lovely new heat pump, preventing 294 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Thanks to her new heating system, she is able to open her business back up. Congrats to the Glenn Family for winning our 52nd Climate Fund grant award!

The Cosgrove Home

83 tons
Meet Megan, our 51st Climate Fund grant winner! Megan at first was skeptical of the process. Lots of paperwork? Hidden costs? Too good to be true? She didn’t want that...good thing she came to the right place. After moving into a new home in Newfield, she quickly realized it wasn’t fit for her family’s needs. The water heater was on its last legs and she could only bathe one child a day before the hot water was depleted. Coming from a house with a severe mold problem (and developing health problems as a result), she knew that the combination of fuel oil heat and forced air in their new home couldn’t be good for the indoor air quality or lungs. Overwhelmed, she reached out to Snug Planet and was connected quickly with Sarah. Sarah walked her through the process and handled everything, reassuring Megan along the way. Together, they made a plan to tackle and address her family’s needs in their new home. Megan was set up with a new heat pump water heater, air source heat pump, and added insulation in her basement and attic. Luckily the house already had one heat pump head already installed, so all they had to do was add another head to get their place as snug as a bug. Megan’s son was also recovering from a concussion and suffering from chronic headaches, so when it was really hot and humid, he could cool off real quick with the heat pump’s air conditioning, an unexpected benefit! Megan couldn’t say enough about how life-saving it was to now have this reliable, safe sanctuary while feeling so supported in the process. Making the switch off fuel oil, she offset 83 tons of CO2 and won $4,378 towards the energy system upgrade.

The Gray Home

46 tons
As Snug Planet’s last client before the lockdown, Jennifer Gray truly lucked out. Since 1974, she has resided in her older Victorian farmhouse in Trumansburg, heating with fuel oil and firewood. However, after being introduced to the idea of heat pumps through her work at Cornell Cooperative Extension, she learned that programs were available to help people like her afford and install a heat pump and get off of fossil fuels! With Snug Planet’s help, she applied and qualified for the Climate Fund, and after stacking on our state incentives, was officially the last person in March to install a new air source heat pump system and heat pump water heater before everything got shut down! Now that she was working from home through the summer, she thought she had signed herself up for a boiling hot home office. Little did she know, the new heat pump system came with an unexpected perk! Air conditioning! For the past 45 years, Jennifer had just accepted that the second floor of her home would be stifling in the summers and freezing in the winters, but this new heat pump put all that to an end. She said that was the icing on top of the reduced energy bills! Unfortunately, Jennifer can’t do a whole furnace overhaul just yet, but that’s on the back burner, she says. Thanks to the Climate Fund, Jennifer Gray is our proud 50th grant winner of $3,454, preventing 46 tons of CO2 from her old system from entering the atmosphere!

The Albro Home

305 tons
Coal is not cute… and doesn’t Debra Albro know it! Deb lives in Alpine, NY with her four-legged family (and two-legged parrot!) in a mobile home set in the woods. Her backyard is a beautiful flower garden haven! In stark contrast, her old coal furnace was a pretty ugly situation for her. To stay warm in the winter, she would go through 5 tons of coal (hurting her budget...ouch). And to make matters worse, she had no place to dispose of the coal ash waste, which she ended up using as fill in her driveway. In addition, burning coal made her sick, damaged her lungs, and constantly dirtied her home. She really needed help, but was unable to attend HeatSmart classes because of her work schedule. Fortunately, she still got in touch to get started, and they connected her with Snug Planet. They replaced her giant health-risk of a furnace with a new high efficiency air-source heat pump system, along with a heat pump water heater that costs a third as much to run. Deb is now a big fan of Snug Planet, saying they were clean, efficient, and such a friendly group of people. They connected her with NYSERDA state incentives and applied on her behalf for a Climate Fund grant and our HeatSmart incentives. We were so pleased to award her our 49th grant of $4,800 towards her new energy system ($2,500 was from our maximum carbon offset grant...shoutout to our devoted offsetters!). By making these improvements, Deb is preventing 305 tons of CO2 from entering our atmosphere...good riddance, coal! Deb is finally able to look forward to winter this year, and is no longer worrying about loading coal into the furnace everyday, cleaning up the mess it makes, or finding a place to put the ash. Sounds like a win for Deb, the community, and our climate!

The Westerling Home

177 tons
Meet our 48th Climate Fund grant winner from Freeville, NY! Nina grew up right here in Freeville, NY, and moved into an 1860 older farmhouse last fall on her own with her four-legged family members. As the office manager for her family’s small local business, she had to dig deep into her pockets to pay the fuel oil bills for this big, old house! Thus, she jumped at the chance to make their home more comfortable and affordable by contacting NYSERDA for an energy audit. It quickly became clear that the fuel oil heating system in her new home wasn't sustainable - she burned through an entire tank of fuel oil in a single month, and it hadn’t even been that cold yet! She set her thermostats as low as they would go and still was running herself ragged trying to heat the entire house with the back-up wood stove. NYSERDA connected her with Snug Planet, and they quickly prioritized her project when they found out how cold her dogs were at home. Snug connected her with all available rebates, incentives, and grants (woot! us!) to make it affordable. After only a few days of work, the new recommended heat pump system was all of her heating needs are covered! Nina won our maximum Climate Fund award of $2,500 plus an additional $2,000 heat pump award for a total of $4,500 towards this project --- preventing 177 tons of CO2 from emitting into the atmosphere. “The difference in heating was incredible. It's great to not use fuel oil at all, and during this hot summer, I've really enjoyed having the option to run them as air conditioners.” Looking ahead, she’s super excited about the possibility of getting solar panels to power her heat pumps and become a net zero home!

The Westerling Home

69 tons
Jonathan, while already on a tight budget, isn’t a fan of spending money to burn fossil fuels. However, with a very poorly insulated home, it became quite the challenge to stay warm in the winter without consuming many gallons of fuel oil. After 2.5 years in his Danby home, he decided he was done with simply enduring extreme indoor temperatures (45℉ in the winter and 115℉ in the summer) and find ways to be more comfortable. After contacting Snug Planet, he got signed up for income-qualifying incentives to insulate his attic and basement along with our Climate Fund and NYSERDA grants to install a new heat pump system and heat pump water heater. Jonathan could say goodbye to his expensive fuel oil bills! So, congratulations to our 46th Climate Fund grant winner, Jonathan Westerling, for winning $4,083 towards this project. Doing so, he is preventing 69 tons of CO2 from pouring into the atmosphere if he had continued heating with fuel oil. Without the Climate Fund offsetters, he said he would never have been able to make these changes. Congrats again, Jonathan!

The Martin/Glenn Home

399 tons
Muddy Fingers Farm just got a little more... muddy! (in the best way!) After living on their Hector land for the past 14 years, Liz and Matthew were ready to upgrade their 1850 farmhouse. Their woodstove did the trick when colder months started creeping in, but as full-time farmers, they wanted to have a clean energy source they could count on - without all the extra labor, hassle, and lack of consistency! After taking a class at Greenstar about heat pumps, they learned about all of the incentives they were eligible for. They were so grateful to have Halco install a new heat pump system and a heat pump hot water heater, funded by the Finger Lakes Climate Fund and Heatsmart Tompkins. Their favorite unexpected surprise is having AC in the summer --- “especially when you’re farming and it’s in the 90s!” Liz and Matthew were awarded our 45th grant of $4,800 (winning a maximum $2,500 Climate Fund grant) and insulated/air sealed their attic, crawl space and basement. They switched from electric baseboard and firewood to high efficiency electric heating and cooling...preventing 398.84 tons of CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere -- the most carbon we've ever saved in any grant, yet! Congrats and thank you for growing food for our community!

The Gutman Home

35 tons
The Gutmans never thought they would be able to afford heat pumps...until the Climate Fund came into their lives! As 20-year residents of Ithaca, NY, Wendy, Aaron, their two teenagers, and two dogs were ready to make their downtown home more energy efficient. The big switch off of natural gas! They were already signed up for community solar, so the Gutmans were poised to become a fully net zero family. Collaborating with their good friends at Snug Planet, Wendy and Aaron not only installed a new air-source heat pump system, but also insulated and airsealed their home. This was made possible by the generous community offsetters we have here in the Finger Lakes! Through these measures, they reduced a future 34.5 tons of CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere, with the support of our $2,000 low-income qualified heat pump incentive and an additional $893 carbon offset grant. Congrats to the Gutmans' dream becoming a reality and winning our 44th Climate Fund grant award!!

The Clearwater Home

40 tons
It’s never fun moving into your first home when the heating system has to be fully replaced right away! Devon Clearwater met this challenge when he bought his first home in a nook of a mobile home park in Spencer, NY. He faced a number of issues getting his new place up to par. When Devon moved in, he was spending $200 a month on propane (that’s a lot for a small ranch house!), and some rooms didn’t even have ducts. He had to lug AC units in and out of windows in the summer, too. Thankfully, he found the cure to these ailments: multizone air source heat pumps! Snug Planet partnered with Devon to reduce his energy bills and get some even heating in his new home. After signing up with a local solar farm in Spencer, NY, he’s so happy to live in a net zero home, all while on a limited budget. Devon works at Goodyear Auto in Ithaca, NY, and is a proud recipient of a $2,997 combined Climate Fund/HeatSmart grant for his new air source heat pump system, keeping 40 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

The Harbor Home

168 tons
We were so happy to grant our 43rd Climate Fund award of $4,500 to Becca Harbor in Newfield, NY. Becca is a long-time community herbalist who has heated with wood for many decades. But now as she ages in place, she wants to be able to leave her home during the winter months to visit elderly relatives. With a wood stove as the main heating source and no backup for the past two winters, this hasn’t been feasible. After connecting with HeatSmart Tompkins and Halco, she was on the path to securing a more reliable heating system that worked for her (and the planet!). Halco installed a whole house air source heat pump system. To her surprise, after adding up all of the financial incentives, it was very affordable on her retiree budget. Becca received our maximum carbon offset grant of $2,500 for the 168 tons of CO2 kept out of the atmosphere by switching from firewood to a heat pump system. She also received our additional $2,000 HeatSmart incentive for the ASHP. Now her home is cozier than ever during all seasons!

The Gray Home

82 tons
Eric Gray was poised to install a new propane boiler all by himself until Snug Planet laid out all the financial programs available to his family, which meant they could afford to have trained contractors safely and reliably install the new system for them. Eight months ago, Eric, his wife Kelly, and two children moved into a 200 year-old farm house with fuel oil storage tanks too thin for fuel delivery, a 60% efficient, 40 year-old oil boiler, and minimal insulation. It would cost them $6,000 to install two new fuel tanks to provide the clunky inefficient old boiler with fuel oil. They wanted to install a different system instead, if they could afford it. The old farmhouse was way too big and poorly insulated to be a candidate for heat pumps on their budget. So, Snug Planet suggested that the best option for now would be a new high-efficiency propane boiler, allowing them to remove the old fuel oil equipment. Thanks to the Climate Fund and NYSERDA funding support available, the price became affordable for them to get this much needed work done. The Grays are super pleased to have a reliable, local company to install their new, more energy-efficient system and are enjoying living out in the Covert countryside in Seneca County. The Grays will remove 82 tons of CO2 over the lifespan of the project and won a Climate Fund grant of $2,098!

The Larry Home

52 tons
Ruth and Robert Larry have lived in their small ranch house in the Town of Danby for 25 years. When their natural gas furnace started leaking out carbon monoxide (it was all going outside, don’t worry!), they knew they needed a change -- quickly. Soon after, at a Caroline Seniors meeting, they were introduced to the HeatSmart Tompkins team. In short order they were connected with Trevor at Snug Planet who got them set up with a new heat pump and heat pump water heater system -- with the price cut in half thanks to all the financial support they were eligible for! They won a carbon offset grant of $1,056 and another $2,300 in heat pump incentives from Sustainable Tompkins. These improvements will remove 52 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere thanks to those who offset with the Climate Fund. They are looking forward to staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer, continuing to provide a welcoming space to their grandkids and family.

The Mettler Home

57 tons
After her husband passed away, Shirley Mettler had to step up to care for their family home by herself. Her grandfather built their Ithaca home in the 1960s, and she’s lived there for 48 years, working as a custodian in our local Ithaca School District. When her daughter encouraged her to upgrade from space heaters (extension cord trip hazards galore!) and a furnace that was missing in action, Shirley connected with Erica from the Energy Navigators of Get Your GreenBack Tompkins. Erica walked Shirley through every step, making her aware of available funding options and grants to have Snug Planet insulate her home and install a high efficiency heat pump. Shirley was so pleased to win a $1,437 Climate Fund grant towards the work scope along with a $2,000 HeatSmart incentive, preventing 57 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere had she continued heating her home with space heaters.

The Wilson Home

74 tons
We awarded our 34th Climate Fund Grant to the Wilsons, a local Lansing couple in their late 30s. Nicole is a graduate student and her husband is a teacher in the Ithaca City School District. Four years ago, they moved back to the area with their in-laws, but in anticipation of expecting a newborn son, they knew it was time to buy a home of their own. They quickly decided on an old farmhouse that was just right. However, the heating system was not so! At the heart of their home lay their main heating source: a wood pellet stove. Yikes! It wasn’t enough to accommodate their heating needs. Some rooms were too hot and some too cold - definitely not suitable for welcoming a newborn into their life. Additionally, running the various propane heaters in some rooms was super expensive! After conducting extensive research to look into all funding options available and connecting with HeatSmart Tompkins, they partnered with Halco to install an air source heat pump system. All the ductwork in the house had been removed by previous owners, so wall-mounted heat pumps were a great solution. With excellent help from Matt Dennis at Halco, they finished the project in 2 phases to afford the cost over the course of a year. The first priority: in their bedroom and living room, and the second: their spare bedroom and the kitchen. Ultimately, the Climate Fund filled the funding gap to make this affordable for the Wilsons. Now, they’ve only had to use the pellet stove as backup - when there’s been consecutive days of single digit temperatures. Not only are their energy bills cut in half, but the Wilsons are finally comfortable in their home. This is important, now more than ever, as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps us home-bound. It’s also important that we’re helping the younger generations, as they continue to increasingly be put more at risk in the face of climate change. The Climate Fund awarded the Wilsons $4,155 ($2,000 from the LMI HeatSmart heat pump grant, and a $2,155 carbon offset grant from our Climate Fund for the 74 tons CO2 kept out of our air).

The Cantori Home

39 tons
Maija Cantori quickly found out that heating with propane and a wood stove can get super expensive - not just for her wallet but also for the environment! After fixing some parts on her old electric water heater, dealing with her furnace’s uneven heating and ongoing surface mold issues in the basement, she was ready for a major switch. It was time to get off of fossil fuels! Maija plugged into the HeatSmart Tompkins program, and was happy to work with Snug Planet to install a new air source heat pump system as well as an air source heat pump water heater. Today, she’s so pleased with the air conditioning features, moisture control, and stable heating the system provides. Despite taking out a small loan and having slightly increased electric bills, she’s still paying much less than she was before - only burning wood as backup heat when absolutely necessary! Maija and her 2 kids live in Ithaca with Maija’s parents. Over the lifespan of these improvements, the Cantori family will prevent 39 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. They’re very grateful for the $1,003 carbon offset grant, $2,000 ASHP incentive, and an additional $300 for the ASHP water heater!

The Beers Family

19 tons
Along with their new home on West Hill, the Beers acquired a rental unit with tenants that are also on a modest income. When the valve on the natural gas-fired boiler (50 years old!) in the rental crashed in the middle of a frigid holiday season, they knew they had to act swiftly. Karim, as the coordinator of Get Your GreenBack Tompkins, knew about the various incentives they could tap into, even as landlords, to wean their rental property off fossil fuels. Rather than putting in another $1,000 to keep the old fossil fuel infrastructure afloat, Simply Installs partnered with the Beers to replace the old boiler with a multi-zone air source heat pump. They’re so pleased for the heat pump’s additional dehumidifying properties, air conditioning, and that their tenants can be fossil-free! As first-time homeowners and landlords, Karim and Alba and their sons Ali and Noah are super excited to do their part in tackling climate change. Their project will remove 19 tons of CO2 over the lifespan of the improvements. Offsetters raised $479 for the Beers family, and they won an additional $2,000 HeatSmart incentive for their rental unit’s heat pump. Thanks to local offsetters, in an emergency situation, we were able to support a local family in their time of need.

The Roenke Home

48 tons
When Sue Roenke’s propane bill ballooned to nearly $250 a month, she knew she needed to take action. The underside of her house was not insulated enough, feeding into its inability to retain the heat she was spending so much money to generate. But Sue wanted to do more than add insulation - being so concerned about climate change, she also wanted to wean herself off the propane. She had already accumulated thousands of excess NYSEG credits from the solar panels on the roof of her home in the Town of Ulysses, and the next step was to make the switch to “beneficial electrification” by installing an air source heat pump to help heat her home. Trevor from Snug Planet connected her with the Climate Fund to fill in some of the funding gaps, making this process super easy and patiently guiding her through her financing journey. With her updated digs, Sue says the biggest benefit is having to only use the propane furnace for backup (when it’s really cold!) to make sure her pipes don’t freeze. She feels like she’s making a difference with the climate - paired with her solar panels, new heat pump, and daughter’s sheep, she is definitely on the path to sustainable living! We are so pleased to present our 32nd Climate Fund Grant of $1,192 and an additional $2,000 incentive for the air-source heat pump.

The Cail/Myers Home

80 tons
For decades, Krys Cail and Tom Myers heated their home with local firewood on their 24-acre piece of land in the Town of Ithaca. As they approach retirement, they wanted to find a new, creative solution to continue heating and cooling their home (that they built themselves!) in a sustainable way. This ingenuity and sustainability value is so evident in the way they wallpapered their home from Krys’s father’s second-hand shop, and used salvaged materials and passive solar windows to construct their beautiful home. They were delighted to partner with Nick from NP Environmental to model their energy needs based on the design of the home they know so well. Krys and Tom are looking forward to learning more about how to work with their new heat pump technology -- and not having to haul and stack firewood (unless they need some backup heating)! Their project will remove 80 tons of CO2 from the audience for a Climate Grant of $2,004 plus a $2,000 HeatSmart incentive for their heat pump.

Amanda Russell Home

71 tons
When Amanda Russell learned that her furnace was 40 years old and hampering her health, she knew it was time for an upgrade. She has cerebral palsy and due to her autoimmune disease, she needs a stable environment - if it gets too cold or too hot, it can be dangerous! The cost-effective solution was at hand: an air-source heat pump system that will both warm and cool her home with superior cost savings. Snug Planet audited her home in Spencer, NY, and according to Amanda “they went above and beyond for her!” They connected her with the Climate Fund and our new HeatSmart funding so she could afford the new system on a tight budget. Amanda received our 31st Climate Fund grant for $1,772 plus our first LMI HeatSmart grant for $2,000 for a total of $3,722 toward the costs of her new home heating system. Since her mom passed away recently, she has suffered an increased financial and emotional burden living alone in the house they’d purchased together in 2017. Amanda, her kitten Wooly Bear, and poodle mix Little One, are all excited to benefit from the awesome health benefits, immensely reduced energy bills, and positive climate impact of switching to clean energy with heat pumps!

The Cardwell Home

64 tons
Pat Cardwell lives alone now with her little dog, surrounded by her collection of dolls from around the world. Her husband passed away a few years ago, leaving many unfinished projects in their old house in a working class neighborhood in Elmira. With a very modest fixed income, she was in need of assistance when both her furnace and water heater aged out in their chronically wet basement. Thanks to Snug Planet, she was much more prepared for winter this year with new heating equipment and an insulated attic. And thanks to the Corning Mothers Out Front chapter that has been raising money for carbon offset projects in the Southern Tier, Pat received our 30th Climate Fund grant of $1,606 for the 64 tons of CO2 that the energy improvements will keep out of our atmosphere. With additional subsidies from NYS, Pat only had to cover 16% of the costs, and with lower energy bills now, she'll be money ahead and a lot more comfortable.

Cramer/Lane Home

40 tons
David Lane and his wife Jennie Cramer migrated with their young son to the Finger Lakes region from Corvallis, Oregon when Jennie's interest in having an organic farm merged with nostalgia for the landscapes of her childhood. David found work as an Evaluation Specialist for the Northeastern IPM Center at Cornell and Jennie at Tompkins County Cooperative Extension, and they soon were settled in an old farmhouse in the Town of Ledyard in Cayuga County. Of course, it was leaky and barely insulated with a fuel oil water heater on the verge of collapse, so they soon had a call into Snug Planet for help. With a limited budget, they were glad to receive our 25th Finger Lakes Climate Fund grant for $1,012 to help pay for a new ultra-efficient air source heat pump water heater and lots of hunting down and sealing of cracks in the foundation and around windows and doors. David and Jennie are well on their way toward their farming dream. An existing solar array on the barn powers the new water heater and electrical load on the farm, and their new meadery, Wild Nectar Mead LLC, is up and producing. Doubtless we'll be hearing more from this sustainability-minded couple in the future.

Colgan/Pruyne Home

40 tons
Finding a home in the Southside neighborhood of Ithaca was the perfect solution for Aislyn Colgan and Harry Pruyne and their children Emerald and Padrick. But, as is typical of century-old homes in upstate NY, it was extremely drafty and poorly insulated. Specifically, a lot of homes in this neighborhood on 'the flats' of Ithaca have wood-frame foundation walls above grade with masonry foundation walls below grade. Air leakage from the basement and crawlspace through the wood-frame walls was extreme, making the new furnace work hard to keep the family warm. Snug Planet helped the family secure Empower funds from NYS and our 29th Climate Fund grant for $998 to cover the costs of installing Tyvek air barriers and foam insulation around the foundation, and weatherstripping the attic and crawl space hatches.

The Gore Home

44 tons
A 60% reduction in their January heating bill! That's just one of the many benefits the Gore family in Cortland received from the work Snug Planet did on their home in November. The Gores received our 26th Finger Lakes Climate Fund grant of $1,093 to help pay for a new boiler and lots of insulation and air sealing which is going to keep 44 tons of CO2 out of our atmosphere. Early last fall they discovered that their old boiler was inoperable and too old to find new parts for repairs. Snug Planet came out and did an energy assessment and let them know that both of their attics were uninsulated and drafty, and they needed a number of other energy fixes as well. Rick is out on disability, so Snug put together a package of energy subsidies along with our Climate Fund grant so they could immediately enjoy lower home energy costs. The Gores are so grateful for the excellent job done by Snug Planet and the support from our local carbon offsetters!

The Brodeur Home

99 tons
Zach and Beth Brodeur and their son Oliver migrated from New Mexico for grad school at Cornell in 2018 and soon found themselves the new owners of a big old farmhouse in Lansing up on a ridge with big views - but also potentially BIG heating bills. Zach works in environmental engineering so he knew to be proactive before their first winter and called up Snug Planet to assess where they should start with efficiency retrofits. As usual the best investments were in air sealing and insulation for the main and rear attics, plus the crawlspace. They also replaced the aging propane boiler with a new high efficiency one. Unfortunately, it is hard to make air source heat pumps cost effective in big rambling farmhouses with rooms tucked away at so many levels, all needing their own heat source. Until that technology can connect to existing radiators or ductwork, we can get well on the way toward zero carbon by tightening these old buildings up and heating them as efficiently as possible. Our 27th climate fund grant for $2,491 represents 99 tons of CO2 saved by this first round of efficiency measures.

The Cook Home

89 tons
Adrienne Cook is well on her way to a zero carbon home. She owns a rare 1950 Sears Roebuck "kit house" in the Town of Ithaca. Despite the small size of the 2-bedroom house, the fuel oil boiler was costing close to $3000/yr to heat the home. Snug Planet set her up with highly efficient air source heat pumps to both heat and cool the home, and provide hot water. ETM Solar will come in the spring to put 7.2 Kw of solar panels on her roof to power the home. Let's make sure everyone gets a chance to participate in the clean energy transition!

The White Home

52 tons
Our 24th Climate Fund grant award went to Brandon and Lyla White and their charming daughter Rosemary. The White Family lives in a 70's era home in the Town of Caroline. Like so many houses of that time, it was poorly insulated and still had the same really expensive electric baseboard heat of those 'cheap energy' times. They put their $1291 grant toward the removal of 52 tons of CO2 by sealing and insulating their attic and the cantilever over the basement floor and toward a new Air Source Heat Pump that is heating AND cooling their home for pennies compared to the shockingly high price of the baseboard heating system and an old style window air conditioner. Thanks to our offsetters for helping the Whites improve their home's carbon footprint!

Business is Blooming

67 tons
Eva Bleakley was already a supporter of our Climate Fund, having offset the carbon emissions from the delivery van for Business is Blooming, her sustainable florist shop. So, when she had a chance to buy the business and the adjacent historic house in downtown Ithaca, she was motivated to do the right thing and get going on making the house a lot more climate-friendly. She got in touch with Halco who recommended she start with thorough sealing and insulation of the drafty basement ceiling and installation of a highly efficient air-source heat pump water heater. We were glad to give this young businesswoman a boost with our 23rd award of $1,667.

The Exantus Home

20 tons
Soledad Exantus and her daughter Sidney were all smiles at the open house for their new home being built by Ithaca's Habitat for Humanity chapter in the Northside neighborhood Their family of 3 has never enjoyed their own home before, especially one with plenty of room and privacy for the girls. HfH is a nonprofit dedicated to making affordable housing available to everyone. They are working with Renovus Energy to install 4.68 kw of solar panels on the roof of their home to power it's all electric systems. A grant from the Climate Fund is helping to pay for the cost of the panels.

The Maataoui Home

20 tons
Mohammed Maataoui and his daughter Esrah are eagerly awaiting the move into their new high efficiency home in Ithaca's Northside neighborhood that is being built by Habitat for Humanity for this family of four. HfH is a nonprofit dedicated to making affordable housing available to everyone. They are working with Renovus Energy to install 4.68 kw of solar panels on the roof of their home to power it's all electric systems. A grant from the Climate Fund is helping to pay for the cost of the panels.

The Khatkhate Home

72 tons
Radhika Khatkhate is a single parent living in the Town of Ithaca with her two children. Their home is spacious with beautiful views of the city, but even though it was built in the late 80s, it was very poorly insulated and drafty. Worse, it was heated by inefficient electric resistance baseboard and a direct-vent gas fireplace. Snug Planet got them signed up for the Empower and Assisted Home Performance program to do extensive air sealing, insulating of the attic and hot water pipes, and installation of high efficiency LED bulbs. But they needed the Climate Fund to pitch in and help cover the costs of a new air-source heat pump to provide highly-efficient space heating. Pictured is Wailin Phyo of Snug Planet working on the ASHP compressor unit.

The Tierney Home

85 tons
The Tierneys of Dryden own one of our typical 60's era wood frame houses with severely inadequate insulation and plenty of air leaks, serviced by an aging fuel oil boiler. Thanks to the folks at Halco and subsidies from NYSERDA and the grant from our Climate Fund, they were able to have multiple improvements done to bring their energy bills down. Thick attic insulation, air sealing around the home, new thermostats and LED bulbs, and a high efficiency air-source heat pump water heater will save them well over $1,000 a year in energy costs.

The Licitra Home

46 tons

The Licitra Family of Lansing has received our first Climate Fund grant for heat pumps. Their 1970s ranch house had an unusual electric thermal heating system. The purpose of this rather odd system was to take advantage of cheap night electric rates to heat up a mass of bricks inside each of 4 wall arrays. The problem of course was that there was no controlling of the amount of heat from the system during the day, which faced a gradual decline in warmth as evening approached. So, they were delighted to work with Snug Planet to install two mini-split air-source heat pumps (ASHP) to provide space heating, along with a new highly efficient ASHP hot water heater. .

There are no incentives for ASHP space heating, so we were glad for the opportunity to support their switch to these highly efficient systems with our award of $1,172 for the removal of 47 tons of CO2. They are delighted to have quiet, efficient warmth on demand and are looking forward to cooling their home this summer with the heat pumps as well.

The Thompson Home

54 tons

Deborah Thompson’s historic home on Marshall Street in the Fall Creek neighborhood of Ithaca received a thorough energy makeover from Snug Planet. Deb received the fourth grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund — our first in the city and our first for a senior citizen. Snug Planet estimated that the improvements they made would eliminate about 54 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which translated into a grant of $1,076 toward the total cost of the project.

The blower door test had revealed that this lovely old home was exceptionally leaky for its size. Insulation in the attic and side walls was scant and uneven, and the basement had all sorts of moisture problems. Over the course of several days, the “Snug” team did extensive work in insulating and sealing leaks in the attic, and addressed moisture problems, air leaks, and lack of insulation in the basement.

Deb Thompson is a well-known and beloved local community organizer and activist. Her life has been lived by the values that guide the donors to the Climate Fund, and thus everyone involved in this project has been extra pleased to see Deb get a “little help from her friends” after so many years of being there to help others. When we visited with Deb in her living room surrounded by the rich gleam of old chestnut woodwork, we imagined her safe and warm during future winter storms — thanks to the good people willing to take responsibility for protecting the climate.

The Miner Home

83 tons

Adam Miner of Newfield probably didn’t expect to end up with a new job along with a new house. Adam is a first-time homebuyer who went through Better Housing of Tompkins County’s assistance program for modest-income buyers. He’d found a 1974 ranch house up in the forested hills south of Ithaca, but the folks at Better Housing had him contact Tompkins Community Action for an energy assessment for it. As one might suspect of 1970s era construction, the insulation for the attic and crawlspace was practically absent, and all the appliances old and inefficient. TCA let him know about the Finger Lakes Climate Fund grants so that he would be able to start his journey of home ownership with a much more efficient and affordable structure. Watch Adam Miner talk about his home.

The interesting conclusion to this story is that Adam is now working for TCA in the Energy Services Division. As he got acquainted with the team working on his house, his interest and aptitude won the attention of the crew leader who let Adam know there was an opening in his department. Now this young homeowner spends his spare time with DIY projects around his own place while his workdays are spent reducing carbon emissions in homes across the county.

With this 17th grant of $1,668 to eliminate 83 tons of CO2, we have offset 1604 tons of greenhouse gas emissions by investing grants worth $30,659.

The Paw Home

61 tons

For Deteh and Hakhi Paw, it’s been a longer journey to home ownership than for most people. The Burmese natives spent ten years in a refugee camp in Thailand before finally reaching asylum in the U.S. in 2006 with their four children. In Ithaca, they learned a new language and adapted to a new climate and culture. A job at the Statler Hotel enabled them to finally purchase a 1970s split-level ranch in the Town of Ithaca. But to their surprise, this relatively new house was so poorly insulated and drafty that they were wearing their coats indoors during their first winter of 2014-2015.  The worst offenders were the cantilevered parts of the house and the bedrooms over the garage. Watch Deteh Paw talk about his family’s home.

A friend told Deteh about Snug Planet, whose energy audit of the home revealed a long list of needed insulation, air-sealing, and equipment replacement. It was far more than they could afford. But through cost sharing with NYSERDA programs and the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, the price was reduced to a level they could manage. Our grant for $1,224 helped offset 61 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from our community.

The relief and happiness the Paws feel at now having a safe and warm place of their own was clear during our visit. Comfort, warmth, security, and lower energy bills to boot!

The Dhondup Home

69 tons

Nyima Dhondup and Tenzin Tsokyi and their three children have lived in their c. 1910 home in Ithaca’s Northside for eight years. Fluctuating energy bills, a weak-in-the-knees water heater, asthma in their two youngest children from an ancient furnace, and uncomfortable drafts were a growing concern.

When Tenzin heard about the Solar Tompkins HeatSmart Program from a fellow Cornell librarian, she attended one of the community meetings and signed up for an energy audit with Zerodraft to take advantage of the group discount with HeatSmart. Watch Nyima and Tenzin talk about their home.

The list of needed improvements was long: attic, basement and laundry room airsealing and insulation, new kitchen windows, and a new furnace and water heater were required to protect the family’s health and lower their energy bills. Between the HeatSmart discount, NYSERDA grant and low-interest loan, and our Climate Fund grant of $1,375, all of the work was affordably done.

With this 15th award, we have offset another 69 tons of CO2 over the lifespan of these energy efficiency improvements.

The Wessel Home

111 tons

Peace is kept in the barnyard at Wildwood Farms by 5 white nanny goats supervising the dozens of ducks, chickens, guinea hens, and cats rescued by farmer Mary Wessel. After living in Norway for most of her adult life, Mary returned to the States to rejoin her family in upstate NY. She purchased a 6-acre homestead on the ridge above Queen Catherine marsh in Schuyler County and began the hard work of creating a sustainable refuge for humans and animals alike.

Like many rural dwellings, the farmhouse consisted of a series of additions tacked onto the original cabin with its massive stone hearth – none of them insulated or tightly constructed. When Mary’s elderly mother needed to move in with her, the utility bills skyrocketed as Mary tried to keep her mother warm with electric space heaters and DIY attempts to reduce the drafts. Finally she turned to Snug Planet for help. Watch Mary Wessel talk about her farm.

The workscope from the energy assessment was huge. Over $20,000 in insulation and air sealing for the multiple attics and crawlspaces of the patchwork house was necessary, plus installation by Halco of two air source heat pumps in the kitchen and the mother’s bedroom. Due to their extremely limited income, almost half was covered by NYSERDA with the Climate Fund contributing another $2,226 for the 111 tons of carbon being offset just by tightening up the house.

Someday Mary hopes to add solar to meet the farm’s electric needs. She’s working to make Wildwood a pleasant retreat for those needing sanctuary and wanting to reconnect with the rhythms of a simpler life, in balance with what our landscape can sustain.

The Stanford Home

114 tons

Kim Stanford grew up in the beautiful valley that runs along Route 38 in the Town of Richford, Tioga County. The family property runs along the west side of the highway and up to the ridge top and an old orchard. The old farmhouse is charming and shaded by mature trees, but that just made the inside seem even more cold and drafty. When Kim returned to take over her parents’ home, she struggled to cover the high heating bills. And when her Cornell job became part-time and her furnace was red-tagged due to a cracked heat exchanger, she knew it was time to seek help. Watch Kim Stanford talk about her home.

Snug Planet installed a high-efficiency furnace, and got to work on sealing the drafts and adding insulation to the attic and walls.  All of this work should keep 114 tons of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere.  Kim’s grant of $2,286 is the thirteenth award from the Climate Fund, and our first grant outside of Tompkins County.

Kim expressed her appreciation to the donors of the Fund, and shares their values when it comes to protecting and cherishing our beautiful landscapes and ecosystems. She hopes to open her home as a B&B sometime soon and share the beauty of this setting. Meanwhile, she will be enjoying much lower heating bills and greater comfort as she continues her family’s stewardship of this homestead.

The Jensen Home

114 tons

Area homeowners are familiar with this story…  Young couple buys old farmhouse while in graduate school. The place needs work, but the beautiful landscapes of the Town of Caroline seem like a wonderful place to raise a family. Then a few bitter winters reveal just how inadequate the insulation really is. Watch the Jensens tell their story.

For the Jensens, the insulation in their 1860 home wasn’t just inadequate – it was missing! An energy audit found 8″ of empty airspace between the walls and the siding.  No wonder there was frost every day in one corner of their dining room. With two small children in the house now, they were suffering from the high electricity costs of running space heaters in the children’s rooms and cold drafty rooms throughout the house.

Tompkins Community Action got in touch with the Finger Lakes Climate Fund on behalf of Nathan and Jen and little Cora and Silas.  Shortly afterward, the Jensens received the twelfth climate fund grant of $2,283 to cover the 114 tons of emission reductions resulting from insulating the attic, floor, and walls and sealing up the rim joists in the basement as well.

The Fenner Home

112 tons

Santa came a little early in 2014 for young Kolleen Fenner and her family, thanks to donors to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund.

The Fenners’ 1920 bungalow home in Newfield suffered from lots of air leaks coming in from the crawlspace and garage door, making their 45-year old furnace labor to keep them warm.  Tompkins Community Action let Daniel Fenner know about the financial assistance they could get through NYSERDA’s programs, but the critical difference came with the Climate Fund grant of $2,247. Watch  Daniel and Kolleen Fenner tell their story.

Their new high-efficiency propane furnace combined with steps to tighten up the house by sealing rim joists, insulating walls, wrapping pipes, and replacing the garage door will keep 112 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.  Donations from the Sustainable Newfield Fund and other community members provided funds for the Fenner award.

The Yantorno Home

83 tons

Runaway boiler!  It’s a good thing David Yantorno was working at home the day he first turned on the heat last fall.  When the house grew hot and the pipes started banging, he ventured into the basement and discovered that his 1947 vintage boiler was running out of control.  After finding the boiler’s kill switch and letting things cool back down, David knew it was time to get professional help on their historic home’s energy systems. Watch the Yantornos tell their story.

Angela and David Yantorno were delighted when they purchased their house on a quiet street in Ithaca’s Fall Creek neighborhood – at last a place big enough for their blended family with four young children.  They knew they needed to replace the old boiler, but had hoped it could wait until they could afford it.  Unfortunately, the fire risk posed by the ancient unit meant they didn’t have that option anymore.

Will Graeper of Halco Energy let them know about the 50% matching grant from NYSERDA that they qualified for, but affording the other half was a challenge.  Will’s boss told him about the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, and shortly thereafter the Yantornos got the help they needed with a grant of $1,667.  This was the tenth award from the Climate Fund and represented a carbon offset of 83.3 tons.  Now the Yantornos are ready for their next Ithaca winter with a 98% efficient gas boiler whose variable speed pump will also reduce their electric bill.  Thanks to the donors of the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, the Yantorno Family should be able to avoid further basement drama!

The Copman Home

118 tons

When Linda Copman and her three daughters moved to Ithaca from their long-time home in Hawaii, they were completely unfamiliar with the realities of heating and cooling a home through four seasons. In their solar-powered island home, temperature control was simple – open a window if you’re warm and close it if you’re cold. Thus, when they fell in love with their pretty historic home in the Town of Ithaca, they didn’t know that they should ask to see the utility bills before purchase. Watch the Copmans tell their story.

Their first heating bill during our recent long, cold winter filled Linda with dismay, but she immediately went to work researching her options and finding professional advice through the good folks at Snug Planet. They conducted an energy assessment and found that the house was basically uninsulated; but even worse was the leaking ductwork and grossly inefficient old boiler (you know you’re wasting fuel when your basement is uncomfortably hot while the rest of the house is freezing!).

The Copmans could not afford to do more than a boiler replacement, and even with a 50% NYSERDA matching grant, they were hard pressed to both pay their heating bills and come up with their half of the boiler costs. They were perfect candidates for a grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund, so Snug Planet helped them apply for assistance. Because of the extremely inefficient situation, just the one step of replacing the boiler was going to eliminate 118 tons of carbon dioxide, qualifying the Copmans for the ninth FLCF grant with an award of $2,361.

Linda and her daughters will be able to view the approach of next winter with much more equanimity. There’s still a long way to go to bring their home into the modern era of energy efficiency, but their utility bills should be far less ruinous now thanks to the generosity of the donors to the FLCF. The Copmans share a joyful and gracious approach to life, even in the face of adversity, and their sincere “aloha” of thanks should make all of our donors proud to participate.

Cayuga Pure Organics

158 tons

Our eighth carbon offset grant is our first made to a local business.  Late last spring, a dreadful fire destroyed the barn at Cayuga Pure Organics (CPO) in Brooktondale along with all the equipment they used for cleaning and packaging organic dry beans and grains grown at their farm and by other local farmers.  As the only major supplier of organic beans in the region, CPO had become a key player in efforts to rebuild a secure local food system.  Facing bankruptcy, the company launched a fundraising campaign and its customers, fans, and dozens of local food advocates responded with more than $87,000 in donations to help them rebuild.

Sustainable Tompkins, got involved when Snug Planet, the energy contractor for the building, realized they might be able to eliminate the need for a fossil fuel heating system if they could qualify for a grant from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund to help pay for the insulation upgrades.  By creating a passive, super-insulated processing facility, the beanery will be able to stay within its required temperature range without supplemental heating or cooling.

The additional insulation will prevent 158 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next 30 years, which qualified CPO for the maximum Climate Fund grant of $2,500.  This funding was made possible by a generous gift from an anonymous donor whose concern about climate change inspired him to offset several years of carbon emissions through the Finger Lakes Climate Fund.

It’s been a challenging year for the CPO team, but thanks to generous support from the community, the jobs of the young farmers have been saved along with this important component of a healthy local food supply.  All this – plus a lighter carbon footprint in the years ahead.

Second Wind Cottages


Sometimes there are acts of generosity that are so inspiring they develop their own force field – drawing in others to amplify the original intention of making the world just a little better.  The story of the seventh Climate Fund grant of $3,457 to the Second Wind cottages in Newfield is about the intersection of two such force fields.

In the summer of 2013, an anonymous donor approached Sustainable Tompkins with the idea of creating a Sustainable Newfield fund where people concerned about climate disruption could donate money to help lower-income residents in Newfield make their homes more efficient and less dependent on fossil fuel.  Other donors have since joined in to help with this mission of slowing climate impacts by helping those least able to afford rising energy bills.

Their generosity intersected with that of the Community Faith Partners when one of their members approached us about the possibility of applying for a climate fund grant to help pay for the insulation of six cottages they are building on donated land in Newfield.  The cottages are to house homeless men, and make up the new Second Wind project – – the brainchild of Carmen Guidi, a local business owner whose faith led him to devote himself to healing the wound of homelessness by providing homes to those living in the “Jungle” near Ithaca.  Carmen’s generosity and vision quickly drew in others from area churches and a beautiful and expanding circle of generosity has been growing ever since.  (Readers can enjoy the full history of the project by visiting

Snug Planet, one of our area’s leading green businesses, played a key role in this web of generosity.  Our $3457 carbon offset grant was enough to pay for most of the insulation materials for the six cottages at Second Wind, but Snug Planet stepped up to donate the rest of the materials and to provide their skilled workforce to supervise the insulating and air sealing process.

The Buckholtz Home

88 tons

Max Buckholtz is a local up and coming composer with a busy schedule of teaching, composing, and performance. His wife had purchased a ranch-style house in the Town of Ithaca about a decade ago, and they soon realized they had a difficult problem lurking below the house. They heavy clay soil in the area was perpetually saturated and the moist environment in their crawlspace was rotting out the foundation, leaking tons of heat energy, and loading their indoor air with molds and mildew. Max bravely took on much of the work himself, but the complexity of the project and ill health from hours in the crawlspace sent him to Snug Planet to get help with the project.

The diagnosis was daunting because so much work was needed to rescue the situation, and the Buckholtz family lived on a modest income. Snug Planet organized access to NYSERDA’s Assisted Home Performance Program and also suggested that Max apply to the Finger Lakes Climate Fund for assistance. We calculated that the work being done under the house would result in carbon emissions reductions of about 88 tons, and we were delighted to send them our fifth grant award of $1, 751 to help cover the costs.

When we visited the worksite, Snug Planet’s staff was carefully cutting and fitting large sheets of insulation to build up a thick wall of protection under the entire floor of the house, as well as taking the time to insulate pipes and ductwork running through the crawlspace. Max reports that the house is much more comfortable as winter gets underway, and both he and his older daughter are feeling much healthier now that they are breathing clean indoor air. Kudos to the donors of the Climate Fund for helping make this possible, and to the dedicated and very hard-working crew at Snug Planet for tackling this difficult project.

The Mazur Home

200 tons

The Mazur Family of Enfield received our third grant of $2,000 in May 2012. Beth and her two daughters loved the green vistas and rural charm of their new place, but like so many of us they discovered that the house itself was poorly designed in terms of energy and moisture management. Then, to make matters worse, the old furnace ended its life with a sooty fire in its basement chamber.

The folks at Snug Planet did a thorough energy analysis of the house, and proposed a work scope involving major insulation and air sealing, a high efficiency boiler and water heater, and ventilating fans to address mildew and rot problems. The good news was that the Mazurs qualified for a $5,000 grant from NYSERDA for the work; but it was still going to be a big investment for a single mom to handle.

Beth wasn’t sure what to do, but the Snug Planet team helped her apply for additional help from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund. The project offset an estimated 100.4 tons of carbon dioxide, qualifying the Mazurs for our new maximum award of $2,000 to cover 100 tons of emissions. Thanks to the generous donors to the Fund, the Mazurs can relax and enjoy their home in all four seasons.

The Rosentel Home

130 tons

Our second grant was made to Jill Rosentel of Lansing in February 2011. Jill is a real estate agent and a first-time home buyer. Even though she was really excited to own her first home, the heating bills for her old and drafty house were daunting and the furnace had seen better days. ASI Energy evaluated the situation, and detailed a long list of improvements to reduce her heating bills. Jill needed help in order to go forward with the full project, and applied for a Finger Lakes Climate Fund grant.

Jill’s house needed a new, high-efficiency furnace as well as a new water heater, major insulation work, and lots of air sealing. All of these improvements would remove about 130 tons of CO2 over their lifespan, so we gave Jill our maximum grant of $1500 towards her project. Jill is delighted by the improved comfort in her snug home and the cost savings – but she also recognizes the importance of lower carbon emissions and promised to spread the word to her fellow realtors.

The Ellis Home

50 tons

Our first grant award from the Finger Lakes Climate Fund went to the Ellis Family in December 2010. Michael, Sherri, and their daughter, Emily, love their home in the woods, but their wood-burning stove was making Sherri’s allergies worse and it was hard to stay warm because of the drafts and lack of insulation. Michael’s schoolteacher salary needed some assistance in order to make the recommended energy improvements, so their contractor, Tompkins Community Action, suggested they apply for a local carbon offset grant from Sustainable Tompkins.

The work scope for the project was estimated to reduce 50.4 tons of CO2 emissions over 20 years by installing an efficient wood pellet stove, insulating the attic, and sealing a variety of leaks in the house. After review by our grant-making committee of Ian Shapiro, Mark Pierce, Kathy Schlather, and Gay Nicholson, and approval by the Board of Directors, we were happy to award the first grant of $1008 to the Ellis Family.

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