The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August, provides rebates and tax credits to homeowners investing in energy-efficient upgrades, including new windows. It will also help the economy as well, said Vice President Kamala Harris when she addressed the Sheet Metal Workers Local 17 in Boston earlier this week.

“We are fighting together to lower home energy costs for families across the nation, which is the subject that brings us together this afternoon,” she said, according to transcripts from the event, held at a SMART Training Facility. “But here’s the challenge: For many homeowners, many folks who are here today, you know that energy efficiency upgrades are expensive. And even though we know it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run, the upfront cost is often too high for so many families to be able to afford.”

As such, Harris said, “we are investing $300 million here in Massachusetts and $13 billion nationwide to help families pay to upgrade their homes and to lower their monthly energy bills.” That money is going back into the communities by way of rebates for home upgrades, which, she explained, creates demand and demand creates jobs.

“As the workers here know, these investments will also create jobs … Jobs for laborers who install energy-efficient windows and doors … Jobs for union workers who will be trained right here in this building,” she said, gaining applause from the gathered audience.

The vice president indicated the money trail, from the government to the taxpayer to the community, is intentional and not happenstance.

“By helping families pay the upfront cost for energy efficiency upgrades to their homes, we are also lowering energy bills, bringing down household costs, creating jobs, and fighting the climate crisis. It’s all connected. It’s all connected with this effort,” Harris continued.

The legislation includes a program on the state level for whole-home energy efficiency retrofit projects, providing rebates of up to $4,000 for retrofit that will save 35% or more of energy use, and $2,000 for those projects that accomplish savings of 20% or more. Up to $1,200 in annual rebates is also on the table for measures that reduce home energy waste, including energy-efficient doors and windows. The U.S. Department of Energy expects the average U.S. taxpayer to save $1,000 a year in energy costs.

The forthcoming changes to residential windows in the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s most recent iteration of its Energy Star program, 7.0, published just last month, should help consumers hit those energy-efficiency goals and qualify for those rebates. The requirements will take affect in October 2023, so by this time next year, windows in the Northern climate zone must offer U-factor ratings of less than or equal to 0.22 and solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) ratings of greater than or equal to 0.17. In the North Central, windows must offer U-factor ratings of less than or equal to 0.25 and SHGC of less than or equal to 0.40. Windows used in the South-Central zone must include U-factor ratings of less than or equal to 0.28 and SHGC ratings of less than or equal to 0.23. In the Southern region, they must offer U-factor ratings of less than or equal to 0.32 and SHGC ratings of less than or equal to 0.23.

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