Just over a year ago, history was made in the fight against climate change as the Biden administration signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The legislation, which builds on the administration’s 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, aims at prioritizing investments in clean energy technologies and marks the single most significant piece of action ever taken by Congress in combatting today’s climate crisis.
The program allocates roughly $400 billion in funding towards expenses like the purchase of an electric vehicle, home solar energy systems and residential electrification projects, but the opportunities don’t end there.
Although drafted at a federal level, with IRA incentives available nationwide, the bill’s implementation will be state-specific, with many states offering a variety of additional incentives that can help their residents save.
For instance, in Delaware, taxpayers can take advantage of no-cost weatherization upgrades, grant funding towards green energy investments like solar, wind or geothermal systems, and up to $2,500 back on the purchase of a new electric vehicle.
As consumers, it’s a chance to reflect on our current energy habits, identify areas where we can improve and take advantage of financial assistance to help make those changes a reality — so let’s get into it.
To start, here are the three types of financial incentives you’ll want to know a little more about.
The first is a tax credit. Tax credits work by offsetting the amount you owe on your annual income taxes, helping to reduce your bill at the time that taxes are due.
For example, if you have a tax bill of $500 and a credit of $350, the amount you owe will be $150. Because they are applied directly to your tax statement, credits are only really useful if you have an amount owing at the end of the year.
Any remaining funds cannot be issued in the form of a cashback refund, although some credit opportunities do allow you to carry over leftover funding to be applied to future tax years.
Under the Inflation Reduction Act, there are three major federal tax credit opportunities worth noting: the Residential Clean Energy Credit, the New and Previously-Owned Clean Vehicle Credit, and the Energy-Efficient Home Improvement Credit.
The next category of incentives you’ll want to make note of are tax rebates, and unlike tax credits, rebates *are* issued in the form of a cashback refund — sort of like a thank you for making investments in a clean energy future.
Consumers should still be largely prepared to pay for any upgrades or improvements up front, as rarely are these opportunities applied at the time of purchase, but even this is starting to change as increasing efforts are made to make incentives more accessible to low-income households.
Under the Inflation Reduction Act, there are two key federally-funded rebate opportunities to remember: the Home Energy Performance-Based, Whole House Rebate Program (HOMES), which supports retrofitting homes with improved HVAC and insulation systems, and the High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Act (HEEHRA) which offers funding towards home electrification projects.
And finally, we have grants. Think of them like tax rebates but in reverse. Instead of receiving the funding for your investments after you make the purchase, grants require you to apply before you make the purchase, and if approved, the funding you receive will help you make any purchases upfront.
They’re similar to a loan, except the great news is, you don’t have to pay these ones back — win!
Now, on to the good stuff! As we mentioned earlier, while the Inflation Reduction Act was drafted at a federal level, its implementation will be state-specific, with many states offering additional incentives to help residents take their green energy investments even further — and for residents of Delaware, these bonus opportunities are plentiful!
To get you started, below is an overview of the upgrades you may want to consider making and their associated statewide funding opportunities.
Want to know more about the Inflation Reduction Act at a federal level? Click here!
If you’re unsure where to start on the path to a cleaner, greener future, scheduling a home energy audit is a great place to begin!
During a home energy audit, a licensed auditor will visit your home to conduct an in-person walkthrough, assessing each room for energy use while asking questions about your daily habits and offering advice on where you could improve.
It’s important to have a basic understanding of your current energy use before your auditor arrives, so make sure you give yourself some time to reflect in the days leading up. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends the following prompts to get you thinking:
Once your audit is complete, your auditor will send over a final report that summarizes their findings alongside any recommendations that will help in leveling up your home’s efficiency. This report is a fantastic tool to keep with you while you navigate the home improvement process, guiding you toward the updates that will make the biggest impact on your energy (and financial) savings.
If you’re ready to book your home energy audit, keep in mind the following opportunities!
The Inflation Reduction Act’s Energy-Efficiency Home Improvement Credit offers existing homeowners and renters the chance to subsidize the cost of a home energy audit. Through this federally-funded credit, consumers can claim 30 percent of the cost of their audit, up to a value of $150, now through December 2032.
Energize Delaware’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program aims at supporting low-income households in making home improvements that enhance their spaces’ comfort, safety and energy efficiency.
The program begins with a home energy audit, and income-qualifying households can receive their assessment for only $25 — talk about some major savings!
You can find the current income qualifications for 2023 outlined in the following chart.
Additionally, as of July 2023, military and active-duty first responders (like firefighters, police and EMTs) can receive their $25 home energy audit regardless of their income level. Similarly, those living in one of Delaware’s Downtown Development Districts can also qualify for this reduced pricing on their assessment. Find out if your neighborhood is eligible by clicking here.
After your assessment, you’ll be provided with a final report highlighting the upgrades that will benefit your home most and outlining any additional rebate opportunities available through the program — but more on these incentives later on!
You can find out more about Energize Delaware’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program by clicking here.
When it comes to wasted energy, there’s nothing worse than a home with poor insulation and leaky doors and windows. Not only does a poorly sealed home envelope lead to draftier spaces and an increased number of pollutants like pollen and dust, but the constant loss of warm or cold air means your HVAC system has to work twice as hard to keep your home’s temperature regulated — no thanks!
Fortunately, for Delaware residents, there are quite a few home improvement incentives available that can help you with weatherization updates like added insulation, door sealing or window glazing.
Here are the ones you’ll want to know about.
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a federally-funded program offered through the U.S. Department of Energy that helps low-income homeowners and renters reduce their energy usage through a variety of fully-paid-for weatherization and energy-efficient home improvements, including the repair or replacement of windows and doors and the installation of window film, awnings, solar screens, insulation and more.
Qualification for the program depends on your household's average monthly income, with the guidelines for 2023 outlined in the chart below.
You can learn more about the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) by clicking here.
Delaware’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a statewide initiative managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's (DNREC's) Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy.
The program aims to assist homeowners and renters in reducing their energy spending by offering various no-cost weatherproofing and home efficiency upgrades.
In order to qualify, a household must meet the program's low-income requirements, with current eligibility guidelines for 2023 outlined in the following table.
If eligible, your household will be placed on a list of qualifying applicants, with priority given based on need, age and available funding. Applicants not serviced within one calendar year must resubmit their application to ensure they continue to meet the program’s eligibility requirements.
Once it’s your turn in the queue, the process begins with a home energy audit where a qualified weatherization contractor will visit your home, identify the measures that would benefit your space most and arrange a time for installation. Currently, the program's offerings include improvements such as:
To date, the program has helped thousands of Delawareans save as much as 30 to 50 percent on their monthly energy spending! Find out more about the program, including details on how you can apply, by following the link here.
Energize Delaware's Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program offers a comprehensive, whole-home improvement approach for property owners and renters looking to increase the efficiency of their space.
The program begins with a home energy audit to assess the approach that’s right for you. This is where that Energy-Efficiency Home Improvement Credit comes in handy!
During this initial visit, your auditor will install a range of preliminary energy-saving measures (like LED light bulbs, faucet aerators, efficient shower heads and water heat pipe insulation) at no additional cost, up to a value of $250 — bonus!
Afterwards, you’ll be provided with a list of suggested upgrades, and as a program participant, these improvements could qualify you for a number of additional rebates, including up to $2,100 back on air sealing improvements, $800 on duct sealing and as much as $2,000 back on wall insulation! Improvements must be completed by a participating contractor in order to be eligible, and you can find a list of all of the program’s current rebate offerings through the following link.
Interested in learning more about the program? Click here for all the details.
Now, as we mentioned earlier, Energize Delaware’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program focuses on supporting low-income households with energy-efficient upgrades for their living spaces. Essentially, it’s just like the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, but with an added helping hand!
As a reminder, the program begins with a home energy audit, and qualifying households will only have to pay $25 to complete their assessment. Active military and first responders qualify automatically, regardless of income, as well as individuals living in specific Downtown Development Districts. All other residents must meet the current income-eligibility guidelines documented in the chart below.
After your assessment, your auditor will provide you with a final report outlining the changes recommended for your home as well as further rebate opportunities that offer you the chance to take your savings even further. In terms of weatherization, current rebate incentives include up to $2,100 back on air sealing improvements, $950 back on duct sealing and as much as $2,600 back on wall insulation! You can find a complete list of the current rebate opportunities through the link here and learn more about the Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program by visiting the Energize Delaware website.
Wondering if your home’s HVAC system is due for an upgrade? Chances are it might be!
Most heat pumps and air conditioners are due for a change-up after 10 years, and most furnaces and boilers need an upgrade after 15. Plus, with nearly half of the average home’s energy expenses coming from costs related to heating and cooling, a more efficient system can save you a ton of money and make your home a whole lot more comfortable along the way.
If you think it’s time for to make an HVAC upgrade, consider the following programs.
As you already know, Energize Delaware’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program helps homeowners and renters to improve their home’s energy efficiency.
After the initial home energy audit, households will be provided with a list of recommended upgrades, as well as additional rebate opportunities available by completing improvements through a participating contractor.
Currently, the program’s HVAC-related rebate opportunities include up to $1,800 back on heat pump installations, $200 back on ENERGY STAR Certified smart thermostats, and $850 back on furnace upgrades.
Find out how you can participate in the program by visiting the Energize Delaware website.
Energize Delaware’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program also goes beyond weatherization upgrades to assist low-income households in levelling up their spaces with improved HVAC systems.
To recap, the program begins with a $25 home energy assessment, and in order to qualify, applicants must meet the program’s income requirements, be situated in a specified Downtown Development District, or be an active member of the military or first responder. The 2023 income requirements are documented below.
If eligible, households can qualify for a number of rebate opportunities related to their home’s HVAC system, including up to $2,500 back on heat pump installations, $250 back on an ENERGY STAR Certified smart thermostat, and $1,300 back on furnace upgrades.
Curious to learn more about Energize Delaware’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program? Visit their website here.
Did you know that water heating can account for nearly one-quarter of a home's total energy consumption? It’s true! In fact, it’s second only to a home’s heating and cooling system, which is responsible for just under half of the average household's overall energy expenses!
With such a big impact on your electrical bill, it’s no wonder many homeowners are turning towards more efficient solutions to help save energy and reduce their spending. For instance, switching from a standard electric to a heat pump water heating system can equate to an energy savings of roughly 60 percent — sign us up!
So what’s the downside? Well, unfortunately, upfront costs are still a factor, and while many of these upgrades will pay for themselves in the long run, initial expenses can still be a roadblock to many households making the investment.
This is where Energize Delaware’s Home Performance and Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR programs once again come in handy. Here’s what you need to know.
In addition to weatherization and HVAC improvements, Energize Delaware’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program offers a variety of rebate opportunities for homeowners and renters looking to improve the efficiency of their home water heating systems by making upgrades through one of the program’s participating contractors.
Currently, water heating incentives available through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program include up to $1,200 back on heat pump water heaters and up to $750 back on tankless natural gas or propane water heaters.
You can learn more about Energize Delaware’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, including steps on how to get started, by visiting the following link.
Energize Delaware’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program similarly offers a range of water-heating-related rebate opportunities aimed at supporting low-income households with improvements to their home’s functionality and efficiency.
To refresh, qualifying homeowners must be residing in a designated Downtown Development District, be an active military member or first responder, or meet the program’s current income requirements. You can find the income guidelines for 2023 documented in the following chart.
If eligible, households can qualify for a number of different water heating rebate incentives, including up to $1,500 back on the purchase and installation of a heat pump water heating system or up to $1,000 back on a tankless natural gas or propane water heater.
You can find out more details about Energize Delaware’s Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, including information on how to apply, by clicking here.
Some home appliances can be real energy hogs, draining electricity (and our bank accounts) even when they’re just sitting idly in standby mode. Some of the biggest culprits? Refrigerators, freezers, dryers and washing machines — aka many of the appliances we use the most!
Investing in more efficient appliances is a simple way to reduce the impact of these devices, and it starts by looking for the ENERGY STAR stamp of approval.
ENERGY STAR appliances use less energy than their traditional counterparts without compromising on functionality, and they do so by meeting a set of strict guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Not only do these appliances help homeowners save money on electrical spending, but their reduced energy consumption also equates to fewer harmful emissions, which is a major win for the planet too!
If you’re looking to upgrade some of your home appliances, make sure to check out the following handy tool!
Consumers can locate rebate incentives on ENERGY STAR home appliances by using ENERGY STAR’s Rebate Finder.
To find rebates available to you, simply input your zip code into the search bar, and the Rebate Finder tool will provide you with a comprehensive list of rebates and special offers on ENERGY STAR-certified products offered by ENERGY STAR partners located in your area — easy!
You can access the tool by visiting the ENERGY STAR website here.
It’s a great start, but there’s certainly room for Delaware’s green energy investments to grow and various statewide incentives, coupled with opportunities available through the Inflation Reduction Act, are helping to make residential adoption more accessible and affordable for all.
Here are two programs you’ll want to make note of!
Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC’s) Green Energy Program provides a variety of grant opportunities to households who are looking to invest in renewable energy technologies to power their homes.
The program’s grant opportunities are offered through the state’s major electric utilities and cover a range of renewable energy investments, including home solar, wind, and geothermal systems.
Each utility company provides funding based on their own unique requirements, with opportunities currently available to customers of Delmarva Power, Delaware Electric Cooperative and those residing in select municipalities.
Find out more about the program and explore current funding opportunities for each provider by visiting the following link.
Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) also offers solar incentives specifically aimed at low-to-moderate-income households through the Low- to Moderate-Income (LMI) Solar Pilot Program.
The program is specifically aimed at customers residing within the Delmarva Power territory and offers two pathways to accessing no-cost or reduced-cost residential solar energy systems. For qualifying low-income households, no-cost solar systems up to 4.0 kW are available through the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program and for moderate-income households, DNREC’s Green Energy Program offers price-reduced systems up to 6.0 kW, with the program covering 70 percent of total expenses.
Currently, low-income households must be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, with guidelines for 2023 as follows.
For moderate-income applicants, annual income levels cannot exceed the current state area median income level for their county. Current median income levels for Delaware’s New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties can be found outlined in the following chart.
You can learn more about DNREC’s Low- to Moderate-Income (LMI) Solar Pilot Program by following the link here.
Solar battery storage systems offer a range of benefits. They allow us to store energy in reserve for use during unexpected outages. They offer us the opportunity to go off the grid during times of peak demand when electricity is most expensive. And for many states, including Delaware, they provide us with the chance to get rewarded for the extra power our systems produce — here’s how.
It’s a process called net metering, and it works by selling any solar energy you don't use to power your home back to the grid in exchange for credit on your monthly electrical bill. In Delaware, any leftover credit can be carried over to future months, or customers can choose to be paid out at the full retail rate for any residual credit at the end of each calendar year.
These programs mean that not only do you access solar savings by relying on the grid less day to day, but by giving back and sharing your clean energy resources you can take those savings even further!
Explore the net metering options available to you by getting in touch with your local utility provider.
Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SCRECS), are credits offered for the generation of solar energy, with one SREC equalling one megawatt hour (MWh) or 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWH) of power.
Under Delaware's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), Delmarva Power, one of the state's major utility companies, is required to secure a certain percentage of their power from clean energy sources, and purchasing SRECs from residential customers is one of the ways they can work towards meeting their goal!
On average, a residential solar energy system in Delaware can generate around 7-12 SRECs each year and these can be sold to Delmarva Power through an annual bidding process.
The bidding process takes place each year during a two week window, where consumers can submit information on their system and the prices they'd be willing to sell their SRECs for. At the end of the bidding period, all applications are checked for eligibility, and approved bids are ordered from lowest to highest. Starting with lowest prices first, bids are accepted until funds are exhausted. If a household receives a winning bid, they are awarded the opportunity to sell their SRECs through the program under a multi-year contract.
You can learn more about the program, including dates for upcoming procurement periods, by visiting the Energize Delware SREC Delware website.
As of December 31, 2022 there are only 5,390 electric vehicles registered in the state of Delaware and with a population of just over one million residents, this means clean vehicles comprise less than 1 percent of the state’s total transportation.
Electric vehicles offer a range of benefits for drivers, saving money on fuel costs and vehicle maintenance while helping consumers to reduce their environmental footprint by producing fewer harmful emissions. So what’s stopping more people from making the switch?
Well, according to Consumer Reports 2020 National EV Survey, 43 percent of of respondents indicated that it’s the high price tag attached to these vehicles that poses a barrier to access, with 34 percent indicating that rebates offered at the time of purchase would increase their interest in investing.
This is great news for the future of EV adoption, because both the Inflation Reduction Act and the state of Delaware offer some great incentives to help make these upfront purchases easier. Keep in mind the following.
The Delaware Clean Vehicle Rebate Program incentivizes Delaware residents to invest in clean transportation by offering rebate opportunities on the purchase or lease of new electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
In order to qualify, consumers must purchase or lease an eligible vehicle with an MSRP of $50,000 or less, between May 1, 2023 and May 1, 2024 and file their application for the rebate within 90 days of their vehicle purchase date.
Rebates can be accessed immediately at the time of purchase by visiting a qualified dealership or through a post-purchase application process, with successful applicants qualifying for the following rebate values.
More details on the rebate program, including information on how to submit your application, can be found through the Drive Electric Delaware website here.
Now that you know all about the statewide energy incentives available to you as a resident of Delaware, the next step is taking action!
Start with that home energy audit we mentioned earlier and use those recommendations as a launch point in guiding your decisions. You’ll then want to find a licensed contractor, explore any additional incentives offered privately through your utility company and investigate the application process for any funding opportunities your upgrades qualify for.
In no time, you’ll be well on your way to a more energy-friendly, efficient and cost-effective future for you, your family and the planet. Good luck and happy saving!