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

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These frequently asked questions cover topics on everything from EERE's mission, tax credits and financial assistance to home energy and training.

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

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.

More information: About Us

What does EERE do?

As outlined in the 2016–2020 Strategic Plan, EERE's mission is to create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy. Its vision is a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy.

EERE aims to achieve the following strategic goals:

  1. Accelerate the development and adoption of sustainable transportation technologies.
  2. Increase the generation of electric power from renewable sources.
  3. Improve the energy efficiency of our homes, buildings, and industries.
  4. Stimulate the growth of a thriving domestic clean energy manufacturing industry.
  5. Enable the integration of clean energy into a reliable, resilient, and efficient electricity grid.
  6. Lead efforts to improve federal sustainability and implementation of clean energy solutions.
  7. Enable a high-performing, results-driven culture through effective management approaches and processes.

Eleven technology offices within EERE work toward the organization’s mission: Advanced Manufacturing, Bioenergy, Buildings, Fuel Cells, Geothermal, Solar Energy, Vehicles, Water Power, Wind Energy, and the Federal Energy Management and Weatherization and Intergovernmental programs.

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Tax Credits and Financial Assistance

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

Federal tax credits are available to homeowners who make certain energy-efficient home improvements. The amount of the tax credit and product eligibility requirements for the credit can vary. Additionally, federal tax credits are available to homeowners for installing small wind or solar systems or geothermal heat pumps. Tax credits for small wind or geothermal heat pumps, equal to 30% of the cost of the system with no cap, are available through December 31, 2016.

Tax credits for home solar energy systems, including solar water heaters and photovoltaic systems (solar electric) are available for 30% of the cost through 2019. The credit decreases to 26% for tax year 2020; 22% for tax year 2021; and expires December 31, 2021.

For additional details, see the websites below.

Commercial buildings can take advantage of federal tax deductions of $0.30-$1.80 per square foot, depending on the technology and amount of energy reduction. Learn more about the Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Credit and the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit.

How do you get a grant or other financial assistance to develop an energy-related innovation or business?

Inventors may seek U.S. Department of Energy funding for energy efficiency or renewable energy technologies in three ways: the Small Business Innovation Research program and Small Business Technology Transfer program, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or through an unsolicited proposal. Also, check EERE's Funding Opportunities page for open opportunties.

If you are interested in small business contracting opportunities, visit our EERE Small Business Program.

More information:

How do you apply for EERE funding for energy projects?

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 Funding Opportunities website or through Grants.govFedConnect, or the Funding Opportunity Exchange.

Energy at Home

How do you apply to weatherize a 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 Assistance 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.

How do you get started installing a wind turbine or solar panels at home?

EERE's website has resources to help determine whether a solar or wind electric system is right for you. First, find 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.

More information:

Where is information on saving energy and money at home?

Visit Energy Saver: Tips on Saving Energy and Money in Your Home to download or order the guide in English or Spanish.

What is an energy vampire?

Energy vampires are appliances or electronics, such as televisions or computers, 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.

More information:

Energy Saver: Energy Vampires are Attacking Your Home – Here’s How to Stop Them

What is the Home Energy Score?

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.

Energy and Vehicles

Where is information on fuel economy and vehicles?

The FuelEconomy.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.

More information:

Where are fueling stations for vehicles that run on an alternative fuel (biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, etc.)?

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. It also provides information on electric vehicle charging stations.

How can our vehicle fleet reduce oil dependence?

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.

Energy at Work

Where is the REScheck or COMcheck software required by local building codes?

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

How do you implement an energy awareness campaign?

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has resources to assist federal agencies interested in increasing energy awareness and action among their employees. Each October, FEMP updates energy action campaign posters for federal agencies. 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

How can students learn more about renewable energy and energy efficiency?

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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Where is information on finding a green job and job training?

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 professional development programs. Information on education programs specific to wind energy and solar power can be also found through the WINDExchange website and the Wind Career Map and Sunshot and Solar Career Map. You can also find information on jobs in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry or fellowships in bioenergy.