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Replacing old windows and repairing your home for free: programs in the USA will help make your home energy efficient

Free grant programs will help replace old windows with new ones and optimize home energy efficiency, reports GrowingFamilyBenefits.

Photo: Shutterstock

The federal government does not provide window replacement subsidies directly to low-income families or the elderly.

However, the money is seeping through state agencies to local vendors who provide specific free energy-efficient upgrades to eligible homeowners.

As with any public benefit, it's not easy to navigate the maze of departments and agencies to see if you qualify and then apply for assistance.

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Start with the Insulation Assistance Program, as its mission matches yours.

Federal Window Replacement Programs 2022

In 2022, low-income families and seniors are most likely to be eligible for free window replacement grants through the Insulation Assistance Program (WAP). Its main goal is to reduce heating and cooling costs by improving the energy efficiency of homes.

The Department of Energy (DOE) funds WAP, and local companies implement the program in accordance with their recommendations. They prioritize projects using the Savings and Investment Ratio (SIR).

Local providers

Low-income homeowners apply for the federal government's free window replacement program through their local WAP affiliate. The state agency or designated contractor will determine if you qualify.

Find out how to apply for WAP at this online resource.

  • Get contact information for your local agency. Your state may have one online application while others will direct you to a list of participating organizations.
  • Complete the application process by providing proof of previous year's income and household size.
  • Prepare to have a state-approved service provider send a representative to your home for an energy audit to determine if you qualify for free services based on the Savings and Investment Ratio (SIR).
Florida

Submit Apply for a Florida Window Replacement Grant through the WAP website maintained by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Given the hot, humid weather, the Florida version may prioritize installing solar screens to limit sunlight from entering your home, as this can earn a higher SIR rating than more expensive window upgrades.

Complete the client acceptance form and submit it to your local agency to begin the process.

California

Submit Apply for California Window Replacement Grants through the WAP website maintained by the California Department of Community Services and Development.

In addition to the federal WAP initiative, California offers a separate, state-funded, low-income weather protection program (LIWP) that can help more families.

  • Housing for agricultural workers.
  • Pilot community project on solar energy.
  • Energy efficiency of an apartment building.
Texas

Submit Apply for a Texas Window Replacement Grant through a website maintained by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) that provides links to other free government resources, including WAP.

TDHCA receives federal grant money and provides funds to local organizations that help those in need. Therefore, your task is to identify and contact representatives near your home.

For example, four organizations support WAP in the Dallas area.

  • Information and reference network of Texas.
  • Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Texoma Council of Governments.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs.

Requirements

Low-income families and seniors must meet certain requirements before a local WAP can use a grant to replace energy-efficient windows at no cost to the homeowner.

  • At 200% or below the federal poverty level.
  • Get other free forms from the government.
  • Additional security income.
  • Help for families with dependent children.
  • Energy assistance for the poor.

WAP prioritizes seniors, residents with disabilities, families with children under 12, and households with persistently high utility bills.

LIWP aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and produce clean electricity through three components.

Other Free Window Replacement Grants 2022

Low-income families can also receive free window replacement grants from other state programs that promote energy efficiency or help designated homeowners such as the elderly.

As before, the federal department sets the goals and funding, but you apply for help through a state or county agency.

LIHEAP

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is less likely to provide grants for window replacement because its primary purpose is to pay utility bills and weather protection is a secondary concern.

LIHEAP, administered federally by the US Department of Health and Human Services, sends block grants to every state. The state then allocates money to local providers to administer the program.

Find local LIHEAP suppliers with this online tool.

  • Enter your state in the dropdown menu.
  • Select the county of your current resident.
  • Click on the yellow dot closest to your location.
  • Contact a state-approved provider to see if you qualify.
Warming

According to the LIHEAP Clearinghouse[1] report, each state determines how federal grants are distributed, and you'll find different levels of assistance depending on where you live.

New York

On the New York State LIHEAP website there is no mention of free window replacement, although the Clearinghouse report states that they allocate 10% of grant money for insulation.

NYS LIHEAP prioritizes helping low-income families heat their homes with electricity, natural gas, oil, and other fuels through direct payments to state-approved providers such as Con Edison.

  • Regular benefits $21 to $675.
  • Late payment surcharge up to $10.
  • Emergency benefits to avoid blackouts.
  • Repair and replacement of heating equipment.
  • Cleaning and adjustment of heating equipment.
  • Cooling. Assistance in buying an air conditioner.
Pennsylvania

On the LIHEAP website in Pennsylvania there is no mention of free window replacement, although the clearinghouse report states that they allocate 15% of their federal grants to insulation services.

Instead, the PA site focuses on two benefits designed to help low-income families pay their heating bills.

  • Cash Grants: A one-time payment sent directly to utilities.
  • Crisis Grants: Helps families with emergency heating.
  • Broken equipment or leaking lines.
  • Lack of fuel or reduction in stocks.
  • Danger of termination of service due to delay.

Energy Star

The Energy Star Program provides concept grants for window replacement through future savings on oil, gas, or electricity utility bills. Installing Energy Star certified windows reduces household utility bills by about 12% nationwide.

Energy Star is maintained by the government, an energy efficiency symbol supporting utility-sponsored discounts on appliances, heating and cooling systems, and light bulbs, but not on windows or doors.

Therefore, the Energy Star Concept Grant can only work as an investment with reasonable returns over the life of the project. Window replacement funding can spread payments over many years, making the numbers work better.

  • Average replacement cost for 25 windows and frames: $15
  • Energy savings over 25 years: $12
  • Annual expenses for gas and electricity: $4000
  • Average savings on utility bills (12%): $480

Senior citizens

Senior Window Replacement Programs include two of the three free government grants mentioned above, plus an additional element: Section 504 through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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First, many older people rely on fixed Social Security retirement benefits, which are not very high. A meager monthly check could qualify them for two low-income window replacement programs.

  1. LIHEAP
  2. WAP

Second, older people usually plan to stay in their homes for less time because their life expectancy is shorter. Therefore, Energy Star's 12% annual utility bill savings from window replacement has less of an impact on the ROI calculation.

Third, USDA Section 504 grants up to $7500 may allow replacement windows to be purchased and installed, provided the project addresses health and safety hazards. To qualify, you must meet these criteria:

  • Be a homeowner and occupy a residence.
  • Live in an acceptable area.
  • It is impossible to get a loan elsewhere (bad credit history).
  • Family income is below 50% of the regional average.
  • Unable to repay recovery loan.

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