By Ramona du Houx
November 3, 2022
On November 2, Vice President Harris visited a union hall and training facility in Boston to highlight new steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to lower energy costs for working families and support good-paying jobs and manufacturing in America.
These steps will provide additional support for low- and moderate-income families, and complement tax credits that families and building owners can use under the Inflation Reduction Act to install energy-saving equipment and to make building upgrades.
“One of the best ways a family can reduce the energy bill is to make their home more energy efficient. 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. And that is why 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.
“And that means providing rebates of more than $800 per household to help families purchase and install, for example, a new electric stove; and providing up to $1,600 per household to help families install new insulation. And it means giving families up to $8,000 to replace their gas furnace,” said Harris.
Nearly half of U.S. households rely on natural gas for heating and their bills could jump 28 percent this winter, compared with last winter, while bills for heating oil are projected to be 27 percent higher and electricity 10% higher, according to a recent analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an independent agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.
“On average, families that switch to an electric heat pump can save up to $500 a year on their energy bill. And since heat pumps do not burn oil or gas, they also mean cleaner air inside your home,” said Harris.
New steps to lower energy costs for families include:
- New Resources for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), today announced $4.5 billion in assistance to help lower heating costs for American families this winter. The LIHEAP funds will go to states, territories, and Tribes. In addition to covering home heating costs this winter and unpaid utility bills, the program will help families make cost-effective home energy repairs to lower their heating and cooling bills. This past year, LIHEAP served over 5.3 million households with heating, cooling, and weatherization services. This support is particularly important during the winter and summer months, as millions of Americans deal with extreme weather and natural disasters. See here for more information on LIHEAP.
- Announcing State Allocations from the Inflation Reduction Act to Make Homes More Energy Efficient: DOE announced nearly $9 billion in funding allocations for states and Tribes under new state- and Tribe-administered home efficiency programs established by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. The new rebate program funding could support up to 1.6 million households nationwide in upgrading homes and apartments to lower energy bills, including by installing up to 500,000 heat pumps and conducting deep building retrofits through insulation and electrical wiring. When combined with the estimated 700,000 homes that will be weatherized with the expanded Weatherization Assistance Program under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this puts America on track to achieve President Biden’s campaign goal to weatherize 2 million homes. In sum, these programs will make these cost-saving upgrades more accessible for low- and moderate-income families as states gain momentum toward deploying at least 12 million heat pumps by 2030. With today’s announcement, states can now access information about their allocated funding, and can begin planning programs to distribute relief to families using these funds.
- Manufacturing Heat Pumps to Drive Energy Efficiency: To support the leap forward in heat pump deployment driven by the Inflation Reduction Act, DOE also released a Notice of Intent and Request for Information on how to make best use of $250 million to enable more heat pump manufacturing in America, using Defense Production Act authorities invoked by President Biden last summer and funded by the President’s Inflation Reduction Act. Heat pumps are highly efficient technology that can heat and cool homes and buildings using just half or a third of the energy used by traditional heating systems. Heat pumps hold tremendous promise to lower energy costs for all American families—saving up to $500 in energy bills every year—while supporting good jobs, reinvigorating American manufacturing, improving public health, mitigating climate change, and bolstering national security by reducing energy reliance on foreign adversaries. Families can access detailed information about the many programs supporting heat pumps and building upgrades from the Inflation Reduction Act at www.cleanenergy.gov.
- Supporting Good-Paying Jobs: DOE is announcing an upcoming roundtable with labor, businesses, and other key stakeholders to get input on the program design of $260 million in workforce development programs to support energy efficiency and building upgrades funded by the Inflation Reduction Act and by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Building on the momentum from these new programs, Elevate and the Relay Network, an independent partnership of mission-based organizations across from the U.S today committed to electrify thousands of affordable housing units and train more than 100 people of color, women, and Veteran clean energy contractors in partnership with heat pump manufacturers.
- Catalyzing Private Sector Action: The private sector is stepping up to this huge opportunity. Today, a group of companies led by Airbnb, Redfin, Lyft, Duquesne Light Company, Mosaic, Arcadia, and Propel are partnering with Rewiring America to launch an education campaign for their customers and users to educate at least 10 million American households about opportunities to save money with heat pumps and other building electrification opportunities, using Rewiring America’s Inflation Reduction Act Calculator and other tools. In addition, three companies – Mars, Procter & Gamble, and Cargill – have stepped up today as part of the Renewable Thermal Collaborative, making commitments to explore and use heat pumps in their industrial facilities to cut costs and reduce pollution. And the Department of Energy today announced that Carrier and Trane Technologies have become the second and third companies, along with Lennox, to meet the Residential Cold Climate Heat Pump Challenge requirements for higher performance in cold weather – providing high-efficiency heating in freezing temperatures.
- Mobilizing Community Financing: The Environmental Protection Agency’s new $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund – created by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act to mobilize financing for greenhouse gas reducing clean energy and climate projects – will host a National Public Listening Session on Wednesday November 9, 2022 to hear stakeholder input on how these catalytic federal resources can support the deployment of distributed energy resources, including heat pumps, in disadvantaged communities. EPA also published a Request for Information seeking public comment on core design aspects of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
In addition to lowering costs, energy-efficient and electric building and appliance upgrades can reduce indoor and local outdoor air pollution, improving health in our communities. In addition, they will cut millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year to help tackle climate change.
Vice President Harris was joined by members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, who are partnering with the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association to create a new online resource for building owners and operators to find qualified labor to install heat pumps and make other important building upgrades.
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