By Rochelle Maruch Miller
The use of oil as fuel is a hot-button topic. Oil drives our foreign policy, impacts our domestic lives, dictates market dynamics, and sets special interests against one another.
While oil has enabled us to make progress in many areas, it seems as if its time is running out; even the petro-companies are running ads acknowledging that oil has become troublesome. For example, BP changed its company slogan to “Beyond Petroleum” even prior to its Gulf of Mexico blowout. Until recently, oil was the most commonly used heating fuel, and a costly resource, which is one of the reasons its use is being phased out in many places. The production costs, due to the human aspect and transportation expenses, were very high. A more affordable energy source was needed.
To that end, the advent of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of natural gas has allowed the market to almost meet production costs. Through the fracking process, over 10 times the amount of gas can be extracted than the traditional method. Because of this, natural gas has become a much more practical energy source than oil. So much gas is available that, even considering the growing demand, the United States has enough in reserve to last 100 years.
Energy solutions for the future will increasingly depend on the use of renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar energy, which are constantly replenished. Renewable energy technologies are clean sources of energy that have a much lower environmental impact than conventional energies. They are considered by many to be the energy of the future, although the cost of acquisition is high and may not have the best return on investment. However, the U.S. government, in an attempt to promote green energy solutions, has allotted generous funding, between incentives and tax credits, to cover a majority of the costs that make the ROI make sense for the end user. Despite the recent advancements in renewable energy, the generation and distribution, particularly of electricity, in New York, has been affected little, if at all. Some experts suggest that by the year 2020, we will hit energy capacity. To prevent this problem, Governor Cuomo has introduced the Reforming Energy Vision (REV) initiative, whereby “utilities will actively manage and coordinate a wide range of distributed resources, or generate electricity from many small energy sources and link them together.”
In the last decade, many business owners have taken advantage of the funding allocations for renewable energy projects, thereby lowering their monthly energy expenses and increasing the value of their real-estate portfolios.
In recent years, the energy-efficiency market has been rapidly growing. Combined state and local utility funds have been driving businesses to take on energy-efficiency projects. However, many consumers and business owners mistakenly consider the two to be interchangeable. Renewable energy mainly refers to energy that can potentially be used without end, such as wind and solar, and has a more environmental focus. Energy efficiency, on the other hand, refers specifically to how well energy is procured and used, and is more economic in nature. In addition, energy efficiency does rely on thermal fuels such as oil and natural gas, but puts an emphasis on science and technology.
The energy efficiency of a building generally falls into two categories–the building envelope and the building machinery. The envelope is the actual structure of a building–its composition, insulation, state of the windows and doors, all of which affect how well energy is distributed within. For example, a house with a wooden frame might need insulation in the attic and walls to keep heat in, while a concrete frame would hold heat differently. Single-pane windows might allow heat to escape while double- or triple-pane keep it in. These are but a few examples.
A building’s machinery, which is the major aspect considered for larger buildings, is what actually uses the energy. Depending on what state the machinery is in, more energy might be lost than is properly utilized. Bad pipe insulation, poorly conditioned ducts, and even an old heating unit can lose more energy than it uses. The traditional approach for dealing with these issues was to fix parts and replace old, energy-draining machinery as problems arose. For this reason, certain legislation has been passed to change how energy-efficiency issues are dealt with. In particular, New York City passed Local Law 87 in 2009, with the goal “To amend the New York city charter and the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring energy audits and retro-commissioning of base building systems of certain buildings and retro-fitting of certain city-owned buildings.”
Simply put, if a building is not efficient enough in its use of energy, repairs and upgrades, which are based on engineering energy-scoping studies, are required by law. This provides a more robust, tailor-made, long-term solution for each building’s specific energy needs. This is just one example of the many solutions out there today.
In an effort to help consumers meet energy-efficiency needs, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, known as NYSERDA, provides financial assistance for energy-efficiency projects. Established during the energy crisis in 1975, NYSERDA collects money from consumers’ utility payments, through its System Benefits Charge, to provide funding for projects. New Yorkers have been funding these programs for years.
This is precisely the premise of JÂ Synergy, a company founded by Yakov Milstein and Itzy Sorotzkin, two young visionaries who believe that innovation, efficiency, and creative solutions need to be the base of any business seeking success. Their inspiration comes from the humble understanding that working hard in the 21st century is not always enough. The synergy between available government funding, new evolving energy-savings technology products, and growing energy need has created the perfect environment for JÂ Synergy Energy Services. The company was born on the heels of the 2008 financial meltdown, when businesses all across America went through massive reforms and cutbacks, which translated to increased consumer costs. One such cost was among the largest monthly expenses of any business–energy. Many researchers are projecting that the prices of energy in America will continue to rise due to inflation, energy demand, depleting fossil fuels, and international exports. JÂ Synergy works closely with businesses and homeowners to develop solutions that are proven to produce affordable and efficient renewable energy moving forward to greener energy and a cleaner way of living.
As one of the fastest-growing energy servicing companies in New York, JÂ Synergy’s commercial division currently services over 10,000 accounts. Focusing on such high-end users as the medical, municipal, industrial, and commercial spheres, JÂ Synergy Commercial also performs energy audits.
“We recently partnered up with one of the largest globally recognized financial institutions and have several hundred million dollars available for such large commercial projects as co-generation, peak shaving, wireless controls, and lighting projects, without costing our clients a dime.”
“In 2012, we procured a 48 million dollar contract in New Jersey upgrading a business to solar power,” said Milstein. “It was one of the largest solar contracts at the time.”
JÂ Synergy conducts a comprehensive review of a company’s energy bills, then procures the best and most efficient pricing by working in tandem with New York’s biggest energy companies. By way of these partnerships, JÂ Synergy is able to save its clients tens of thousands of dollars. Says Mr. Sorotzkin, “We also negotiate any hidden fees that may be costing nursing homes, office buildings, and other businesses thousands of dollars.”
He adds, “We will help businesses with water, lighting, solar energy, and gas conversions.” Upgrading one’s business to solar energy can help reduce monthly electricity bills by self-generating clean electricity. Beyond the wallet, changing to solar energy means a business can generate power to cover electricity, reduce its carbon footprint, and reduce gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
So how does this impact homeowners? Whether it is heating homes–particularly during this past brutal winter–or keeping cool during the coming summer, monthly utility bills are a major expense, reflecting the consumption of countless kilowatt hours plus added fees.
JÂ Synergy provides its clients with the knowledge needed to improve their unique energy situations. The Five Towns-based business offers free energy audits and professional proposals that will show the projected future energy costs for each client based on engineering software and NYSERDA program standards. JÂ Synergy Green is one of the limited participating contractors in NYSERDA’s Home Performance with Energy Star program. With access to state and local utilities funding, JÂ Synergy is able to perform up to $38,000 of energy-efficiency improvements for 1- to 4-unit homes in New York. Being green and energy efficient has never been as easy and financially beneficial as it is with JÂ Synergy. From new, high-efficiency boilers and air-conditioning systems, to converting oil and propane homes to gas heat, to adding insulation to the roof, crawl space, attic and basement, the company is the one-stop choice for savvy homeowners and is an industry gold standard. If an air-conditioning system is over ten years old, it will be replaced with an efficient one. Energy-draining refrigerators will be replaced with new, efficient models, as will existing boilers and hot-water systems. “We can also include up to 15% of the total cost of the proposal in safety renovations,” says Sorotzkin.
JÂ Synergy completes the work up-to-code, seamlessly and with alacrity. Offering customers the highest caliber of professional service, the company has become one of the top performers recognized in New York. They recently received the Building Performance Institute’s Gold Star in recognition of their high standards of work.
Simply stated, JÂ Synergy does it all with meticulous attention to every detail, taking immense pride in bringing every project to fruition. They have even branched out to providing full construction and renovations and have completed construction on over 250 homes in the Five Towns/Far Rockaway area in the last 18 months.
“It’s all very exciting,” Milstein says. “We are making excellent renovations; actual physical changes that not only improve your house, but increase its value as well.”
It all begins with an energy audit, performed by one of JÂ Synergy Green’s Energy Star-certified energy auditors who complete a free and comprehensive visual and machine inspection of the home.
“We look at the envelope of your home,” explains Sorotzkin. “Do you have sufficient heat? Is there an excessive amount of air conditioning? Do you have mold?”
Upon completion of the comprehensive inspection, the auditors create an energy study and a proposal, showing homeowners where they could save money, how much they could save and how quickly. They will prepare a package–composed of a combination of government grants and rebates–to finance the work. They will also show the homeowner the projected decrease in the monthly utility bills. “Because the government wants all homes to become green and more efficient, they can fully fund projects for low- and middle-income families,” Sorotzkin explained. High-income families benefit as well, in the form of a special unsecured “loan.” As long as the project generates more monthly savings than monthly payments, this is all approved by the program and is paid through one’s electric bill. “Once the work is complete, the beneficiaries pay a small fee on their now-lowered bill. It is designed to work to the customer’s benefit.”
Millions of dollars have been approved by New York State for 2015 energy-efficiency construction projects, including new windows, doors, boilers, air conditioners, and foam insulation.
In a recent state review, JÂ Synergy was commended for saving families more money than its conservative estimates had initially projected. Recently, JÂ Synergy received its reports from Albany, which showed that its average client saved close to double the state average of all clients going through the program.
JÂ Synergy Green is one of the largest and most highly respected energy efficiency contractors in New York. They are unsurpassed in procuring grants, rebates, and incentives for their clients at no upfront costs. JÂ Synergy has been part of recent lobbying efforts which successfully resulted in an extension on key funding aspects for this program through 2016. JÂ Synergy hopes to disburse $20Â million for home energy-efficiency projects and is well on track to do so. Funds are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“People know they’re losing money on electricity,” says Milstein. “They see their bills and think that nothing can be done. Our message is that it can be done.”
For more information, visit JsynergyGreen.com and enjoy a clean, green and more affordable home!