According to a task group led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), around 70% of homes in the country were built before 1990—before stricter building codes were enacted. As a result of aged materials and outdated codes, 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows, the task group says. During the summer, about 76% of the sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows becomes heat. DOE hopes to address these issues through a Contractor Training Grant Program and the Home Energy Rebates Act, which will issue $8.8 billion to state energy offices to retrofit and electrify homes. In the process, DOE will distribute $150 million in grants to states to reduce the cost of training, testing and certifying residential energy efficiency and electrification contractors. The funds will be made available courtesy of an Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Section 50123, State-Based Home Energy Efficiency Contractor Training Grant Program.

The program allots up to $200 million for the training process, including $150 million in grants and up to $40 million that will be distributed through a competitive process.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm says the program will provide states with funds to develop and implement workforce training programs for residential efficiency and electrification projects to help Americans save money on their energy bills. She adds that the funding aims to attract and educate new workers in the energy efficiency industry, train and empower existing workers, strengthen the U.S.’ clean energy workforce and help tackle the climate crisis.

According to the program’s administrative and legal requirement documents, states that choose to participate can pursue various general activities and goals, including:

  • Equipping contractors with the hard and soft skills necessary to electrify homes and make them more energy-efficient;
  • Preparing workers and businesses to deliver the energy efficiency and electrification measures funded through the IRA-funded HOMES and HEAR programs;
  • Developing programs to upskill incumbent workers and support professional growth;
  • Providing resources to develop and support relevant pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship training programs; and
  • Establishing or strengthening career awareness programs to increase interest in relevant energy workforce careers, among other goals.
  • The push to curb energy loss in residential homes is a priority for door and window companies, which have developed various new products, including low-E coatings and photovoltaic windows, to mitigate the losses. However, the goal of improving energy efficiency in homes remains a tall task.

    Contractor Training Grant Application Timeline

    The initial application deadline to participate in the Contractor Training Grant Program ends Sept. 30, 2023. The negotiation process will run from Oct. 1, 2023, to Oct. 31, 2023, followed by the awards announcement, which runs from Nov. 1, 2023, to Feb. 1, 2024. The first set of funds will be distributed upon the execution of the assistant agreement and will be 50% of the total award.

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