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Frequently Asked Questions about the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Below are some of the questions we are regularly asked at EERE. These frequently asked questions cover topics such as EERE, tax credits and financial assistance, home energy, vehicles, industry, and energy education and training.

If you don't find the answer to your question, please contact us with your question.

General Information

Tax Credits and Financial Assistance

Energy at Home

Energy and Vehicles

Energy at Work

Energy Education and Training

General Information

What does EERE stand for?

EERE stands for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, an office of the U.S. Department of Energy.

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What does the EERE do?

EERE invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. By partnering with industry, state and local governments, universities, and manufacturers, EERE plays a critical role in improving energy efficiency practices and increasing their adoption by American consumers, industry, and governments.

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Tax Credits and Financial Assistance

Are there federal tax credits available for energy improvements to my home or business?

Federal tax credits are available to homeowners who make certain energy-efficient home improvements. The amount of the tax credit and eligibility requirements that products must meet to qualify for the credit can vary. For additional details, see the websites below.

Commercial buildings can take advantage of federal tax deductions of up to $1.80 per square foot by demonstrating savings of 50% or more of their combined heating, cooling, ventilation, water heating, and interior lighting energy costs. Partial deductions are also available for demonstrated energy savings with regard to one of three building systems—the building envelope, lighting or heating and cooling system. These deductions are available through December 31, 2013.

Additionally, federal tax credits are available to both homeowners and commercial buildings for installing small wind or solar systems or geothermal heat pumps. These tax credits, equal to 30% of the cost of the system with no cap, are available through December 31, 2016.

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Can I get a grant or other financial assistance to help me develop my energy-related innovation?

Inventors may seek U.S. Department of Energy funding for energy efficiency or renewable energy technologies through three routes: the Small Business Innovation Research program and Small Business Technology Transfer program, the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy, or through an unsolicited proposal.

Can I get a grant or other financial assistance to start an energy-related business?

Most financial assistance opportunities available through the EERE are for the development and demonstration of energy-related technologies. For help with starting a business, you may wish to contact the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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How do I apply for EERE funding for my energy project?

The EERE works with business, industry, universities, and others to increase the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. EERE encourages the growth of these technologies by offering financial assistance opportunities for their development and demonstration. You can search for current opportunities through the EERE Financial Opportunities website or through Grants.gov, FedConnect, or the Funding Opportunity Exchange.

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Energy at Home

How do I apply for help with weatherizing my home?

The Weatherization Assistance Program enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Funds are used to improve the energy performance of dwellings of needy families using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry. The Department of Energy works with state and local weatherization agencies to do the work of the Weatherization Assistance Program.

You can find contacts for your state weatherization agency through the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program.

Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services runs a program called the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which can help low income families pay their utility bills.

I'd like to install a wind turbine or solar electric system at my home to make energy. How do I get started?

The EERE website has a number of resources to help you determine whether a solar or wind electric system is right for you. In general, though, there are a few things you'll want to think about. First, find out the solar or wind resource in your area to determine how much electricity you might be able to produce. Second, consider whether that's enough energy to meet your typical needs, or to make the project economically feasible. Then look into local codes, covenants, or laws that might apply to your project. Finally, explore federal, state, local, and utility incentives that might offset the cost of your new system.

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How do I order a copy of the Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home guide?

You may obtain a copy of Energy Savers: Tips for Saving Energy and Money at Home by going to the Booklet Distribution page on Energy Savers to access the online version of the booklet, download a PDF version, or place an order through our online order form.

What is an energy vampire?

Energy vampires are appliances or electronics that continue to draw a small amount of power (called standby power­) even when they're switched off. Typical energy vampires are devices that have remote controls, or LED displays that are always illuminated.

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I've heard about the Home Energy Score. Where can I find more information?

The Home Energy Score allows a homeowner to compare their home's energy consumption to that of other homes, similar to a vehicle's mile-per-gallon rating. You can find more information about the program, which is currently in a pilot phase, through the Home Energy Score website.

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Energy and Vehicles

Where can I find information on fuel economy and vehicles?

The Fuel Economy.gov website contains gas mileage (MPG), fuel cost, greenhouse gas emissions, energy impact score, air pollution ratings, and safety information for new and used cars and trucks, including MPG information for a number of hybrid and electric vehicles. In addition, you can find tips to help you improve your fuel economy and save money at the gas pump.

If you'd prefer a hard copy of the current Fuel Economy Guide in the mail, you can order a copy through the EERE Publication and Product Library.

My vehicle runs on an alternative fuel (biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, etc.) Where can I find a fueling station?

The EERE Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center website has an Alternative Fueling Station Locator that you can access online or through your mobile device. The station locator can connect you to information on fueling stations dispensing biodiesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), ethanol, hydrogen, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and propane as well as providing information on electric vehicle charging stations.

My business has a fleet of vehicles. Are there resources to help our fleet reduce its dependence on oil?

Through EERE's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, you can access fleet-specific resources, including information on fleet experiences with alternative fuels, tips and implementation considerations for specific fleet types, and a Petroleum Reduction Planning Tool to help fleets create a strategy to reduce their reliance on conventional fuels. Fleets may also be eligible for technical assistance as they make the transition to alternative fuels.

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Energy at Work

I'm a builder and my local code official requires that I use REScheck or COMcheck software. Where can I find these tools?

You can access REScheck and COMcheck from the EERE Building Energy Codes website in both online and downloadable formats.

I work at a federal government facility that is interested in starting an energy awareness campaign. How do I get started?

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has a number of resources to assist federal agencies interested in increasing energy awareness and action among their employees. Each October, FEMP develops energy awareness and energy action campaign materials for federal agencies. In addition, current and past You Have the Power and Earth Day materials are available on the FEMP website. FEMP also offers additional materials that can guide you through the process of starting an energy awareness campaign any time of the year.

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Energy Education and Training

I'm a student interested in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Where can I learn more?

Students and kids can find information on energy from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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How do I find a green job? Is there training available?

The EERE Energy Education and Workforce Development site links to listings for green jobs through the U.S. Department of Energy and other agencies.

Once you know the type of training you'll need, you can search for four-year degrees and certification programs. Information on education programs specific to wind energy and solar power can be also found through the WINDExchange website and Sunshot.

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