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Free Insulation

Is Free Home Insulation Legitimate, Scam, or a Little of Both?

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Insulation

Insulation

Public Domain; U.S. DOE
Around Fall and Winter, the prospect of free insulation is often dangled in front of homeowners' eyes. Knowing that government agencies offer grants, loans, tax credits, and subsidies to help insulate its citizens' homes, I decided to investigate the topic and see how much merit it had. Perhaps, somewhere in all this, might be some authentic free insulation.

United States Department of Energy - Weatherization Funding

  • What is It - In March 2009, the White House announced a $5 billion direct Weatherization Assistance Program and $3 billion state weatherization program. This is the biggie that everyone is waiting for.
  • Who Gets it - U.S. citizens making up to 200% of the federal poverty level. This is about $44,000 a year for a family of four, slightly higher for residents of Hawaii and Alaska.
  • Is the Program in Place? - No.
  • Amount You Will Receive - $6,500 per home.
  • So, Free or Not? - Possibly, if your insulation upgrades come in below the $6,500 cap.

United States Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program (EERE)

  • What is It - A tax credit program designed to help mitigate the costs of insulating primary residences for U.S. citizens.
  • Who Gets it - Any U.S. citizen. This applies only to primary residences (i.e., not vacation homes) and only to existing homes, not new homes.
  • Is the Program in Place? - Yes.
  • Amount You Will Receive - $1,500 tax credit or up to 30% of cost of insulation.
  • So, Free or Not? - No. It is unlikely that any substantial insulation job will cost less than $1,500.

U.S. State and Local Insulation Subsidies

  • What is It - A highly valuable database maintained by N.C. State University called DSIRE keeps track of insulation grants, subsidies, and loans available from states and municipalities, as well as power companies.
  • Who Gets it - Various. Typically applies only to residents of that state or city, or customers within a power company's service area. Usually applies to low-income households. One example of monthly low income is in the Puget Sound Energy (WA) service area: $1,458 for a family of two, $2,208 for a family of four.
  • Is the Program in Place? - Yes.
  • Amount You Will Receive - All or partial costs paid. Or, various loan amounts.
  • So, Free or Not? - Sometimes. A number of power companies offer low or even zero interest loans. Tacoma Power is one such company that offers zero interest loans. Some power companies, usually working in conjunction with community agencies, will provide free insulation. One example of this is the Puget Sound Energy's Free Home Insulation Program for low-income households.
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