The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) watched its first roll-out for a new program, as New York was the first state to introduce federally funded home energy rebates. Days later, the department released part one of a national definition for zero-emission buildings. Officials say the definition is intended to provide industry guidance to support the movement of new and existing commercial and residential buildings toward zero emissions, while creating a minimum criterion for public and private entities to adopt, ensuring uniformity.

According to the DOE, existing buildings cost more than $400 billion per year to heat, cool, light and power in the U.S. The department’s recent blueprint calls for reducing U.S. building emissions by 65% by 2035 and 90% by 2050. Part of the problem is inefficient windows, officials say.

In order to be defined as zero-emissions, buildings must be energy efficient, free of onsite emissions from energy use and powered solely from clean energy, though the definition could eventually encompass emissions from embodied carbon as well. Embodied carbon represents the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with upstream stages of a product’s life.

At a recent Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance conference, Kayla Natividad, architectural technical services engineer for NSG Pilkington, told attendees that embodied carbon is set to become increasingly important as buildings become more efficient and consume less energy through operations.

“As we reduce [energy consumption from] operations, how do we keep minimizing our carbon footprint? We have to quantify what our embodied carbon is,” Natividad said.

Back at Home

So far as how homeowners will afford energy related improvements, more federal incentives are set to roll out, similar to those introduced in New York. In August 2022, president Joseph Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, providing nearly $400 billion to support clean energy, including $8.8 billion for home energy rebates. According to White House officials, through the use of rebates, individual households could save “hundreds on monthly energy bills and up to $14,000 for energy efficient home upgrades.” New Yorkers are first to partake in those federally backed incentives, after the state began offering rebates in recent weeks, backed by Inflation Act funding.

The program also supports the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to direct 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, and other investments, to disadvantaged communities. As part of its program, DOE requires that states and territories allocate at least half of rebates to low-income households—including those earning 80% or less of their area median income.

“From tax credits to rebates, the Biden-Harris Administration is determined to lower costs for American families and change the economics of home energy bills,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “New York is leading the charge as states across the country gear up to launch their Home Energy Rebates program—delivering jobs, savings, and healthier homes.”

To capitalize on New York’s rebates, customers must provide proof that doors and windows are Energy Star-certified, said Mark Sackerson, sales manager for Franzoso Contracting in Croton-On-Hudson, New York. Meanwhile, “Most windows are not meeting [the criteria] now unless they upgrade to triple pane, which can push windows out of customers’ price ranges,” Sackerson said. The federal tax credit for Energy Star-rated products “is capped at $600 for windows and $500 for doors,” he says.

The first phase of New York’s program will also support homeowners who wish to install air sealing, insulation, ventilation, heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and electric upgrades (wiring and load service centers).

Seventeen states have applied for nearly $1.9 billion in funding under at least one of the home energy rebate programs, with each being responsible for setting up and running its own program. According to DOE’s website, every state has begun the process of preparing applications.

1 Comment

  1. Is there anything available or coming up for Florida residents?
    I need new windows and doors , mine are aluminum and 24 years old.
    Please don’t have contractors contact me, I can’t afford anything unless I get a grant?

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