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Fort Drum cashes in on energy efficient homes

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Fort Drum cashes in on energy efficient homes
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It's one of the prides of Fort Drum. Housing built with energy saving standards that not only make sense for builders, but those living in it as well. As our Brian Dwyer reports, Drum thinks it has a win-win situation with its Mountain Community Homes project.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. --There were times pinching pennies didn't matter, but these are not those times. Every cent Fort Drum can save, the better it can help its soldiers.

Using a special computer program, it can actually monitor buildings on post, barracks, dining halls, headquarters. If a light is on or the heat or air and no one is there or it's not necessary, it can be turned off remotely.

"Typically, with the gross number of buildings we can do this with, we can create a large scale energy savings," Fort Drum Utilities Monitoring and Control employee Thomas Hudon said.

But it doesn't stop there. Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes, which builds on-post housing, has hit a milestone in its efforts, its 1,500th energy star tested home.

NYSERDA says among other things, the company has gone above and beyond in testing insulation and sealing. These homes use 30 percent less energy than ones on post built in the 80s. These are efforts that are helping those older homes upgrade.

"We've received incentives of over $1.8 million that we're able to reinvest back into our project and bring all the others that have up to standard in terms of energy efficiency," FDMCH Development Manager Kris Carr said.

Efforts saving families a lot of money.

"Our average energy bill is probably somewhere around $200 to $250 a month for an average family. Thirty percent of that is like $70 to $80," Carr added.

But the builders here are not just depending on the house to do all of the work. Fort Drum is the only installation in the entire country taking part in a pilot program where the lower a homeowner's energy bill is, the more points they can earn towards rewards. They can cash them in for things like books, DVDs, even a television.

"We want the kids to say, 'Mom and dad, turn the lights off. We want this book or CD that we want to get and we need this many more conservation credits to get it,'" Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes Director Joe McLaughlin said.

If this program works and saves money, it'll be rolled out to other posts around the country. Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes says it's hoping these new homes will maintain efficiency standards for 50 years.

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