Offer Incentives to Make Efficiency More Affordable

Even with a home energy labeling program and affordable financing options available, some homeowners in your community may still find energy efficiency upgrades just out of reach. High first costs can be a barrier to making energy efficiency improvements, especially for low-to-moderate income (LMI) populations. Local governments can partner with utility programs to offer incentives to residents who make energy efficiency improvements in their homes, or coordinate with existing utility programs to supplement or compliment incentives already being offered. Incentives can also be carved out specifically to assist LMI residents in paying for energy-saving upgrades. Local governments can grant permit fee waivers or reductions, or expedited permitting for residential energy efficiency projects. << Back to Main Page

RESOURCES

Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center - Marketing and Outreach Handbook: This step-by-step guide on designing marketing and outreach strategies includes a section on designing financial and non-financial incentives. It provides an overview of incentive options for residential energy efficiency and lessons learned from local and state programs from around the country.

TOOLS

Better Buildings Residential Network: Designing Incentives Toolkit: This toolkit addresses the challenges and opportunities of using incentives to increase the volume of home energy upgrades. It can help when deciding incentive levels and what to incentivize.

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR: This DOE program connects homeowners with experienced and trusted contractors that can help them understand their home's energy use and identify home improvements that increase energy performance, improve comfort and health, and lower utility bills. Utility partners often offer rebates and incentives for making energy efficiency improvements.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT EXAMPLES
  • Arlington County, VA:
    The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy offered households in Arlington County up to $575 in rebates toward increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. Rebates were available for water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, heat-pumps, and for air sealing/insulation. Incentives were provided on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funds were depleted.
     
  • Cleveland, OH:
    The City of Cleveland’s Property Tax Abatement program eliminates 100% of the increase in residential property taxes for improvements that increased the assessed property value, including some energy efficiency improvements. Residents and developers seeking tax abatement for residential projects must meet Cleveland Green Building Standards found in the Cleveland Green Building Standard Handbook.
  • Columbia, MO:
    Columbia’s municipal utility, Columbia Water & Light, offers Up to $1,200 for approved energy efficiency upgrades plus up to $1,600 for an efficient air conditioner or heat pump as part of its Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program (HPwES). Low-income residents participating in HPwES save approximately 25 percent on their heating and cooling bills. For low-income customers, the City of Columbia offers two programs utility customers can sign up for – C.A.S.H. (Citizens Assisting Seniors and Handicapped) specifically assists low income elderly and low-income disabled citizens who have exhausted other resources, and H.E.L.P. (Heat Energy and Light Program) provides aid to low income families with children in one-time emergency situations.
  • Holland, MI:
    The Holland Home Energy Retrofit Program is a financial incentive offered by the Holland Energy Fund to homeowners. The program assists homeowners in making comprehensive, whole-house energy improvements to reduce energy use, increase comfort and lower utility bills. City of Holland homeowners who invest in increasing the energy efficiency of their homes are eligible to receive a 10% rebate grant from the Holland Energy Fund through the program. An on-bill financing option is available, as is a residential energy advisor to discuss financing options.

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