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Wanted: A few good homes for pellet stove pilot program

Using a wood pellet stove as well as proper weatherization techniques could save some $900 a year, estimates Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. The extension office and Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services are offering a pilot weatherization project, with a low-interest loan and pellet stove subsidy, to prove it.

Dan Burke, project coordinator, and Guillermo Metz, green building and renewable energy program coordinator at Cooperative Extension, are looking for 24 Tompkins County homeowners to participate. The homeowners would first have an energy audit to determine how to lower the home's heating needs with weatherization techniques so the house could be almost entirely heated with a pellet stove. INHS will then offer the homeowners a five- to 10-year low interest loan to pay for the work needed from a certified contractor. Other state and federal weatherization and energy-saving incentives will also be available to those who participate in the pilot program.

Participants would purchase and install a pellet stove for their heating needs, with a $500 rebate available from Cooperative Extension.

There is no income cap, but depending on their income level, some homeowners will qualify for a 50 percent cut on the total cost of the weatherization and stove. To get a tax credit, all work needs to be completed by Dec. 31.

Participants will also receive delivery of bulk or bagged pellets at a guaranteed below-market price for two years. Over the long run, pellets are far cheaper -- and more stable in price -- than propane or oil, says Burke.

In return, program participants will be asked to share data with Cooperative Extension about their energy usage and cost savings.

Those interested in being part of the program should contact Burke at 607-527-0031 or e-mail, or Metz, 607-272-2292, ext. 185, or e-mail

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Joe Schwartz