Cozy Basements! crew in action insulating a rim joist
Image by Aaron Fernando

Cozy Basements! crew member in action insulating a rim joist

Cozy Basements!

Cozy Basements! is a pilot program that provides a hands-on training experience for students in the Energy Warriors Green Career Pathways program while providing free home upgrades to homeowners across Tompkins County. Students in the Energy Warriors program receive in-class training and support to enter the green workforce--everything from the foundations, like basic tools, applying for jobs, etc., to training on building energy science, common residential building health hazards, indoor air quality, and how to make a building more energy efficient. Then, through a partnership with BlocPower, and under professional supervision, Cozy Basements! gives trainees the opportunity to spend the day insulating rim joists in houses across the county, with a focus on serving low- and moderate-income homeowners. 

The rim joist is the wooden member where the floor/ceiling joists abut in a home's basement (see Figure 1). This area is often left uninsulated, which allows air to flow in. In the winter, cold air leaks in and absorbs heat from the home, where it rises and creates a "stack effect" (see Figure 2), with cold air continually being pulled in and leaking out the roof or higher levels of the home. This leads to wasted heat and money. An uninsulated rim joist can also lead to increased mold in your basement—and can even rot out your rim joist over time! Sealing that low-lying drafty point is a relatively simple way to improve a home's comfort and energy efficiency.


Figure 1. The Rim Joist

Figure 2. The Stack Effect

Whole-home benefits of rim joist insulation include:

  • Reduced basement air leakage
  • More consistent indoor temperatures year-round
  • Reduced moisture
  • Lower energy consumption and cost

Cozy Basements! provides the following services:

  • Free insulation of the basement rim joist* using rigid foam board and spray foam sealant
  • $0 cost to the homeowner for materials or labor
  • A week-day appointment from 9:15AM-5PM

*In the event that basement size, basement clutter, or crew speed impacts the appointment, a full rim-joist insulation may not be achievable.

Students are paid for their time and all materials are covered by the program. It provides them with invaluable experience while lowering your heating bills and making your home more comfortable as we head into the winter months.

If you own a home in Tompkins County, we're still recruiting homes! The key criteria is that your home have an uninsulated (and unfinished) basement. As mentioned, we're also prioritizing serving low- and moderate-income homeowners (see chart below for those income levels). If you think you qualify, please fill out this enrollment form. If you are above these income levels, feel free to enroll and we will put you on the waiting list. 

Income qualifications

Depending on your household size, the income qualifications are, roughly:

  • below $56,000 for a single person
  • $64,000 for a family of two
  • $74,000 for a family of three
  • $88,000 for a family of four
  • $102,000 for a family of five
  • $116,000 for a family of six

For a full list, go to and type in Tompkins County and your home size.

Contact Guillermo Metz at or 607-272-2292, x185 if you have any questions.

Last updated March 15, 2024