A state-backed program is launching a new push to expand the number of homes that get free energy audits and efficiency upgrades as officials seek to upgrade a Long Island housing stock with increasingly antiquated insulation and heating systems.

The $2.3 million Long Island Green Homes program arranges for free home-energy assessments, then coordinates contractors and financing to get the work done. State-backed loans can help defray the cost of upgrades, which can range from around $2,000 to $25,000, according to Anthony Jones, and energy consultant at Radiant Insulation Systems, one of the contractors.

The three-year program is administered by the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College in Rockville Centre.

Neal Lewis, the institute's executive director, said the aim is to increase the number of homes that actually do the paid upgrade work after the free assessments. In the past, about a third of the 10,000 homes that received an audit had upgrade work done by an affiliated contractor. Lewis said his goal is to increase that figure to 40 percent to 45 percent.

The work in large part involves sealing up homes to higher insulation standards, sometimes replacing doors and windows and assessing and replacing old, inefficient heating and cooling systems.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Lewis said about a third of Long Island homes have heating systems that are 30 years or older, so replacing them with modern units often leads to savings. In addition, most Long Island homes were built before 1970, before modern insulation codes were put in place.

In Babylon Town, where a similar program was launched in 2008, 1,660 of the town's 66,000 homes have participated in a similar program. The average savings for those who had work done was $1,084 a year, said Will Schweigert, operations manager for the town program. The average cost for the work was $10,500.

Information about the state-backed program, which is funded by the New York Energy Research and Development Authority's Cleaner, Greener Communities program, can be found at longislandgreenhomes.orgcq/lii or by calling 1-800-567-2850.cq/liiAlso, PSEG Long Island's commercial efficiency program is working with the Marriott Hotels in Islandia and Melville to reduce the buildings' combined electricity costs by $173,000 a year. The work chiefly involves switching out old lighting fixtures and lamps with new LED models, reducing electric their combined consumption by 964,974 kilowatt-hours annually, the equivalent of taking 102 cars off the road, PSEG said.//pls restore to end for web/js// The utility provided a $162,250 in rebates to help pay for the upgrades. A similar effort at Winthrop-University Hospital is helping the institution save more than $120,000 a year in electricity costs.