Contractors weigh in on HOMES and HEEHRA Rebate Implementation via AnnDyl Contractor Survey
By Kara Saul Rinaldi and Skip Wiltshire-Gordon
Home performance and electrification contractors will be vital to the success of the $8.8 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) home energy rebate programs, HOMES and HEEHR. Contractors are on the front lines of residential decarbonization, working with households to cut energy use and draw down emissions while making homes more comfortable and more affordable. They will be critical to both successful energy efficiency and electrification projects, as well as homeowner education about new rebates and federal tax credits like 25C.
To ensure contractor voices are strongly represented as program implementation begins, the AnnDyl Policy Group administered a Contractor Survey from November 2022 to January 2023 to gauge planned contractor engagement and uptake for the two home energy rebate programs which will be administered by states, territories, and tribes in the coming years. Initial aggregated survey results are now available.
High Level Takeaways
- The survey was geographically broad with 1154 contractors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia responding.
- Interest in the rebates was high among the respondents; only six (6) percent of respondents indicated they did not plan to pursue HOMES rebates.
- However, there is a great need for contractors to have more information about how the rebates will work. Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said they would need to learn more to decide which HOMES rebate pathway (measured or modeled) they planned to pursue.
- There was significant interest in marketing both rebates to eligible low- and middle-income households (57 percent of the respondents indicating they would market to this demographic). However, there was significant concern with how income qualification would work and how the point-of-sale rebate requirement for HEEHR would work.
- When asked what type of work force training contractors would prefer, almost half (46%) said subsidies for on-the-job-training, while the remainder were evenly split between online and in-person outside training courses.
For a deeper dive into the survey, go to the AnnDyl Policy Group Contractor Survey.
Who Responded to the Survey?
The survey received responses from 1,154 contractors operating in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The largest state contributors were New York (106 respondents), California (81 respondents) and Massachusetts (71 respondents).
Survey respondents hailed from occupations across the residential spectrum, self-identifying as:
- home performance contractors,
- HVACR contractors,
- weatherization contractors,
- insulation contractors,
- water heater installers,
- electrification contractors,
- and other.
Respondents were largely leaders of their respective firms - 78 percent of respondents reported serving in either CEO or management positions.
As expected, 60 percent of respondents worked at firms with fewer than 20 employees, roughly in line with the broader energy efficiency industry, according to E4TheFuture’s 2022 Energy Efficiency Jobs in America Report.
Respondents almost entirely reported working on existing single-family homes, a focus of the two home energy rebate programs. Of the respondents, 98 percent reported they worked on single-family homes and 96 percent indicated they work on existing homes in some capacity.
HOMES Efficiency Rebates
HOMES offers two pathways for rebates based on either modeled energy savings or measured energy savings. According to the Survey, there is uncertainty in the industry about which pathway contractors will take. Thirty-seven (37) percent of the contractors indicated they would pursue the modeled approach while only 8 percent said they would pursue the measured approach. But, 49 percent of respondents noted they would need to learn more to respond when asked which HOMES rebate pathway they planned to pursue. And, nearly half of all respondents indicated they would like to learn more about measured performance programs at the end of the survey.
Just six percent of respondents indicated they did not plan to pursue HOMES rebates, an excellent sign of industry interest.
HEEHRA Electrification Rebates
Income qualification is required under statute for HEEHRA rebates; only those with under 150 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) are eligible. Fifty-seven percent of respondents anticipated their company would market the availability of residential retrofit rebates if required to verify that customers were low- or moderate-income (LMI), while only 17 percent responded they would not, and 26 percent responded they were not sure.
Of the 17 percent that said they would not market in LMI communities their biggest concern was about the income verification process and the point-of-sale rebate process (55%).
Low- and Moderate-Income Incentives
Both HOMES and HEEHRA rebates include contractor incentives to work on projects in disadvantaged and income-qualified communities—HOMES includes a $200 rebate per home for contractors completing projects in disadvantaged communities, while HEEHRA allows states to offer up to a $500 rebate per project. Twenty-three percent of contractors said these incentives would directly cause them to pursue work in low-income and disadvantaged areas, while 36 percent responded it potentially would, depending on if there was as cap on how many times benefits could be claimed. This is consistent with comments to DOE from the Building Performance Association requested that DOE not set a cap on how many times a contractor can claim theses incentives.
Quality Assurance and Third-Party Certification
Outside contractor certifications are invaluable tools to ensuring consistent quality in home performance and electrification projects. Survey respondents were provided with a list of certifications and asked to select all that they would favor to be required of contractors to perform HOMES and HEEHR projects. The results are listed below:
Third-party certification is another critical element to ensuring project quality. Thirty-five percent of contractors reported they currently pursue third-party certification for projects, while 46 percent responded they did not. Of the group that reported they did not pursue project certification, 32 percent noted they were too busy, 22 percent noted they were not convinced of the value of outside certification, and 9 percent noted certification was too costly, among other responses.
The plurality of home performance and electrification contractors (46 percent) surveyed ranked on-the-job training (wage subsidies for the expense of time dedicated from senior technicians) as their first-choice preference, ahead of in-person outside certification courses and testing (25 percent) and online outside certification courses and testing (24 percent).
Home performance employers are supportive of these chances to pursue outside certifications, in particular - a plurality of contractors (38 percent) surveyed noted they were willing to allow employees to take up to one week to pursue outside certification, with an additional 10 percent supportive of their employees taking up to two weeks.
AnnDyl Contractor Survey results were included in responses to DOE’s Request for Information (RFI) related to the two rebate programs from the Building Performance Association and the Energy Efficiency Strategy Group. Contractors will be key to the success of the two home energy rebate programs – and as states and DOE begin program design, it is key that they take contractor voices into account.