Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about our program offerings? Please see a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) below. If this still does not answer your questions, feel free to reach out to us directly.
What is Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®?
The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) Program offers “whole-house” solutions to increase the comfort, safety and durability of your home. Installing energy efficient upgrades can save you up to 30 percent on energy costs and reduce both your energy use and carbon footprint.
What is Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®?
Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR provides the same services as Home Performance with ENERGY STAR with additional financial support for income-eligible households. Those who qualify can receive a comprehensive home energy assessment for $50 and energy efficiency rebate upgrades offered at significantly increased amounts.
Who’s eligible to participate?
Residential properties located in Delaware containing 4 or less units per building are eligbile. Condos and apartments are not eligible.
I am a renter, and I would like to save on my utility bills. Do I qualify?
While renters can’t apply directly for the program, you can enjoy the benefits of reduced energy bills by encouraging your landlord to apply.
What does it cost to participate?
Your Energy Auditor will charge a $100 fee for the Home Performance Energy Audit at the time of the audit. You also will pay for the improvements you agree to as part of a contract. Those costs depend on your home (including size, age, etc.), the recommended improvements, and those you choose to install. Homeowners can receive cash incentives to help offset some of the costs of improvements.
Do mobile or manufactured homes qualify for incentives in Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program?
Yes, mobile or manufactured homes are eligible for incentives through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program, provided they meet the eligibility requirements of the Program.
I am a potential home buyer and would like to have an energy audit performed on the home prior to purchasing, can this be covered by the $100 audit program?
As a potential buyer, you are not eligible for the program until you have purchased/closed on the home.
I am a seller living in the home and would like to have the comprehensive home energy audit performed on my home, but may not move forward with improvements. Would a potential buyer be able to use the original audit information if they should choose to move forward with any future improvements?
Yes, in this case you would need to provide the buyer with the audit report for their records. However, the audit findings are valid for two years from the date of original audit. If the buyer does not move forward with improvements within two years, a new audit must be completed prior to implementing any improvements through the program.
If you are selling the home but not currently living in the home, you would not be eligible for the program.
What is BPI?
The Building Performance Institute (BPI) is a national resource for building science technology that sets standards for assessing and improving the energy performance of homes. All contractors participating in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program are BPI contractors, which means they utilize advanced diagnostic equipment to test the home and identify necessary energy efficiency improvements.
If I want to speak with someone, what number should I call?
What is the process of working through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program?
- First, you review the list of HPwES participating contractors and select one to perform a Home Assessment and make energy efficiency upgrade recommendations.
- Go to the Get Started page online to Request An Assessment.
- After the assessment, the Auditor will show you the HPwES Proposed Measures document, which will calculate the estimated total energy savings (TES) of your project and, therefore, the incentives you are eligible for.
- If you are interested in financing through Home Energy Loan Program, you can apply online.
- You sign: A contract with your contractor, A HPwES Customer Participation Agreement
- Once you have signed the above documents and (if applicable) your financing has been pre-approved, your contractor may begin work.
- When your work is complete, you will sign a HPwES Program Certificate of Completion.
- Your contractor then submits your final completion paperwork to the program for review.
- Your project will receive an inspection by the Auditor.
- Lastly, the program will process your rebate (which can take up to 120 days) and your financing company will initiate your financing.
As a customer, what am I responsible for and what is my contractor responsible for throughout the work being completed?
You are responsible for:
- Applying to the lender for financing, if desired, with the guidance of your contractor
- Deciding the energy efficiency measures to install in your home, in consultation with your contractor.
- Signing required HPwES documents to be submitted by your contractor to the program.
- Allowing a final inspection of your home.
Your contractor is responsible for:
- Providing recommendations after completing your home audit/assessment, including: Energy efficient upgrades
- Measures needed to ensure the health and safety of your home
- Submitting your signed contract and the HPwES Proposed Measures documents to your financing company for review before work may begin.
- Submitting all paperwork and making all required program software entries within the required timeframe.
- Submitting to the financing company the details of any changes made in the field to the original contracted work.
- Remedying any field inspection issues within the required timeframe of 30 days and submitting the required follow up Inspection Report to the program.
How long does it take to receive the rebate?
Once your contractor has finished the work, has submitted all the necessary paperwork, and has passed a final inspection, it can take 4-6 weeks to receive your rebate.
Can I get the rebate for work/equipment that has already been done/installed?
No. The rebates are not applicable to previously done work or work installed/performed before the audit.
If I have received a Home Performance rebate before, may I submit a new project for another rebate?
If you have previously participated in the HPwES program at the same site (home/townhouse), you can submit for a rebate for a new project that was not previously performed.
Do you provide rebates for the installation of equipment to a new space/area that previously did not have heating/air?
Rebates apply to equipment that is upgraded for more energy efficiency. This means the rebate is not applicable to new zones, spaces and major renovationsthat did not have a heating/cooling system prior to the renovation (space heaters and plugin devices do not constitute as a previous heating/cooling system).
Do you provide rebates for the installation of new windows or doors?
Currently there are no rebates offered for the purchase and installation of new windows or doors. However, the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program assesses a home’s overall performance and energy efficiency looking specifically at improvements to insulation, duct sealing and heating and cooling systems. We always encourage you to install ENERGY STAR rated windows and appliances to maximize your energy savings.
Home Assessment / Audit
What is a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR assessment?
The assessment is the first step towards improving a home’s efficiency and reducing energy bills. During a basic assessment, the BPI contractor will perform:
- Combustion Appliance Testing Diagnostic equipment is used to test the condition of your heating system, water heater, oven, etc.
- The testing results point to upgrade opportunities
- Visual inspection of the house Air sealing opportunities
- Insulation opportunities
- Possible health and safety issues, such as moisture and/or asbestos
The assessment can also include a blower door test, which measures and locates air leakage in your house. Your contractor will then evaluate the results and explain to you what improvements can be made, as well as the cost of making the improvements. This video can give you an idea of what to expect during an audit.
How much does it cost to have a Home Performance assessment done?
Your Energy Auditor will charge a $100 fee for the Home Performance Energy Audit at the time of the audit.
What kind of information should I expect to get from a contractor after the assessment?
Once the assessment is completed, the contractor will provide you with information about the existing conditions of your home as well as recommendations to make your home more energy efficient.
What is the best way to select a contractor?
Not all contractors are the same. Contracting companies participating in Home Performance with ENERGY STAR have earned the training through the Building Performance Institute (BPI), a national resource for building science technology that sets standards for assessing and improving the energy performance of homes. A BPI contractor is trained and skilled in building science technology.
The best way to select a contractor is through our trade ally database, which lists HPwES participating BPI contractors. You can access the counties that each contractor serves.
Participating contractors in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program are independent home improvement contractors. HPwES contractors may charge different fees for services they provide. Please discuss pricing with each contractor prior to having any measured performed. It is generally accepted practice to contact several contractors before selecting one. The Program does not warrant the products or services of participating contractors.
Do I have to use a participating contractor?
Yes, In order to qualify for incentives within the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program, work must be completed by one of the BPI trained contractors, who have agreed to participate under the rules of the program. Participating contractors have earned training through the Building Performance Institute (BPI), a national resource for building science technology that sets standards for assessing and improving the energy performance of homes. A BPI contractor is trained and skilled in building science technology.
The Program does not warrant the products or services of participating contractors.
Do all contractors offer the same services?
No. Some contractors specialize in specific improvement work and do not have all BPI certifications to perform the improvement work. To perform air sealing and insulation work, for example, a contractor must have the BPI shell certification called Envelope Professional. To work on heating and cooling systems, a contractor must have the BPI heating and cooling certifications. Ask your contractor which of his or her staff members or subcontractors has the proper certifications to be responsible for the different types of work you are having done.
Can I use more than one contractor to do the work?
Yes and each contractor will be responsible for submitting their required data and paperwork to the program according to the work performed.
May my contractor use subcontractors to work on my Home Performance project?
Yes. As prescribed under the BPI Standards, a BPI contractor may subcontract all or a portion of their contracted work scope to any contractor that has the requisite BPI certification(s) for the work being performed or to any contractor if the BPI accredited contractor has the requisite BPI certification(s) and oversees the work being performed.
The contract of the full work scope submitted to the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program is required to be contracted directly with the HPwESparticipating contractor submitting the project to the program in order to be eligible for incentives. Any portion of a work scope that you, as the homeowner, have agreed to pay to a subcontractor or any other entity directly is not eligible for HPwES incentives. Additionally, the BPI contractor submitting your project to the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program is obligated to advise you, the homeowner, of these requirements and state regulations when working with subcontractors.
If I perform energy efficiency upgrade/improvements on my home myself, will I be eligible for Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program incentives?
No. Please see above.
If I have a complaint about a contractor, who can I call?
What is a blower door test?
The blower door is a door insert with a large fan. After closing all windows in the home, the fan is used to create pressure in the home that is about equal to 20 mph wind. During the test, you can actually feel with your hand where your home is losing heat in places such as electrical outlets and around windows. With the home under pressure, the technician can determine the leakage rate of your home and compare this rate to industry standards. Typically, older homes have very high leakage rates, but occasionally a home may have a leakage rate that is considered to be too low, and the home may require the assistance of mechanical ventilation to maintain acceptable moisture levels. If you have asbestos present in your home, you should not have a blower door test performed as it may cause asbestos particles to disperse throughout your home. Your contractor should be able to advise you on the proper procedure.
When should the blower door test be done?
The blower door must be performed before and after any air sealing or building cavity insulation work.
Is the blower door test included in the home assessment?
Yes in most cases.
What are health and safety issues?
The Building Performance Institute has identified several issues that are required to be addressed prior to the contractor implementing energy saving measures. These issues are related to presence of potentially hazardous insulation materials, excess moisture, and combustion by-products.
Why do I have to fix health and safety issues before air sealing or other work is performed?
Health and safety issues have negative impacts on the indoor air quality or your home. They can also pose a risk to the durability of your home and/or the health of the occupants.
Why is health and safety testing important when conducting home energy improvements?
BPI contractors have been trained to inspect and test combustion appliances, such as heating equipment, ovens, and water heaters for proper performance to help ensure safe operation. This evaluation includes measurement of carbon monoxide produced by the appliance and testing to ensure that potentially dangerous combustion gases are not introduced into the home. BPI accredited contractors test for combustion safety problems before and after performing any energy improvements to your home. Learn more about health and safety issues.
What is air sealing and why is it important?
Insulation alone is not always enough to make sure your home is energy efficient. Stopping air leaks, combined with proper insulation and ventilation, are three major components required to ensure a home is tight while providing a sufficient supply of fresh air.
What indicates that a heating system is running inefficiently and unsafely?
The telltale signs of an improperly functioning heating system include varying temperatures from room to room, the house feeling too hot or too cold, and the heating unit cycling on and off excessively. Homes with forced air heating systems use a duct system to distribute air. Most ducts, whether old or new, have cracks, gaps and holes that waste about 25 percent of the treated air. In addition, it is important to have fuel-burning equipment like fireplaces, water heaters, dryers, and furnaces checked for proper venting to avoid harmful gases, including carbon monoxide, from entering the home.
What are the benefits to installing a Smart Thermostat?
Smart thermostats can help homeowners and families save money each month. These thermostats are efficient and allow you to use less energy, all while helping the environment. On average, smart thermostats such as the Nest Learning Thermostat provide average savings of $131 to $145 a year. These Wi-Fi thermostats contain sensors which control the heating and cooling systems in a home and work in conjunction with your HVAC system. This means that you have the ability to control your home’s temperature even when you are not home by logging in from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and making corrections to your thermostat. They have very useful features such as maintenance reminders and the ability to monitor energy consumption. A smart thermostat has dirty filter detection so it can notify you when it is time to replace your air filter. You can monitor energy consumption every week to know if your energy use has gone up or down and to become smarter about how you program your thermostat.
Why is insulation important?
Whether a home is old or new, inadequate or improperly installed insulation can lead to high energy costs, uncomfortable rooms and structural problems. Heat moves from warmer areas to cooler areas. Proper insulation levels slow the movement of heat through the walls, floors and ceilings, keeping heat inside in the winter and outside in the summer. A BPI trained contractor will check insulation levels and make sure it is installed properly, and ensure that all the holes, cracks and gaps in the home are sealed for air leakage.
Why is ventilation important?
Ventilation is a vital component to every house. Ventilation systems are important for healthy, safe and comfortable living spaces. These systems help remove moisture from the air to help avoid mold, mildew and condensation problems. Ventilation also helps eliminate potential indoor air pollutants, cooking odors or stale, stuffy air. A house has to “breathe” and proper ventilation can help ensure your home has a steady, healthy amount of fresh air.
Why do homes develop mildew and mold?
Mold and mildew can occur when warm, moist air condenses on a cold surface. Many building products will support mold growth, especially wood-based products. Mold in a home can often go undetected since it tends to occur on the coldest surfaces, such as closets on outside walls (especially when the walls are improperly insulated), behind furniture and in attics and basements. The presence of mold in homes is typically a sign of insufficient ventilation, uncontrolled air movement or excessive humidity levels. A BPI contractor can perform diagnostic testing that indicates air leakage paths and insulation conditions to determine the home’s particular needs. Since mold is usually caused by a combination of problems, a home performance assessment is recommended to effectively develop a plan of action to help remedy the problem.
What is meant by correctly sized furnace and air conditioning equipment and why is it important?
Installing the right size equipment for your home is essential to getting the best performance for your heating and cooling equipment and maintaining the comfort you deserve. Some believe that bigger is better when buying new equipment, but a system actually operates best when each component is properly sized. Oversized equipment may cycle on and off more frequently, which can make the home less comfortable and shorten the equipment life. In the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, contractors will take measurements of your home then do calculations to determine the appropriate size for your air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump.
Is the condition of the doors and windows important?
Though windows and doors are not eligible measures for HPwES incentives, it’s important to have well-insulated, high-performance windows and doors. Homeowners will see and feel the difference through improved comfort, reduced condensation and lower utility costs. Look for the ENERGY STAR symbol to identify the most efficient windows, skylights, and sliding glass doors.
When buying new windows, consider the U-value and Low-E coatings. U-value is the measure of the window’s ability to insulate. Lower U-value means less heat flows through the windows. Low-E (low emissivity) window coatings are thin and transparent, permitting visible light to pass through, while effectively reflecting radiation – keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Note: Windows and doors are not eligible measures for Home Performance incentives.
How can a homeowner improve the efficiency of a water heater?
Typical recommendations for water heaters include insulating an existing tank, replacing the existing tank with a more efficient model using the same fuel, or replacing the existing tank with another fuel source, usually natural gas or a heat pump water heater. If the hot water pipes are not insulated in a cold basement, insulating the first six feet of pipe may be a recommended resolution.
How can consumers improve the lighting in their homes?
Although lighting is not an eligible measure for HPwES incentives, you will save money by choosing ENERGY STAR qualified lighting when replacing light bulbs or installing new light fixtures. For more information on how to select an ENERGY STAR certified bulb for each application in your home, view the ENERGY STAR Light Bulb Purchasing Guide.
According to the DOE, today’s ENERGY STAR qualified LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs/lamps have a lifespan and electrical efficiency that is several time better than incandescent lamps, and significantly better than most fluorescent lamps, with some chips able to emit more than 100 lumens per watt. Like incandescent lamps and unlike most CFLs, LEDs come to full brightness without need for a warm-up time; the life of fluorescent lighting is also reduced by frequent switching on and off. Degradation of LED dye and packaging materials reduces light output to some extent over time.
Note: Lighting is not an eligible measure for Home Performance incentives.
What are the requirements for contractor participation?
Participating contractors must employ properly trained staff and must allow inspection of work performed by the program to ensure that all measures are properly installed and safety precautions are observed. To participate in the HPwES program, a contracting company must be Building Performance Institute (BPI) trained, which requires that at least one employee hold a BPI certification. Participating contractors must guarantee all work, and agree to abide by BPI standards governing health and safety, work quality, insurance coverage, customer service, and complaint resolution, and follow all requirements as spelled out in the HPwES participating contractor agreement.
How do I become a participating contractor in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program?
Send a request to DEGeneral@FranklinEnergy.com
What is the role of the Home Performance Program’s Energy Advisors?
The Energy Advisors will be able to assist your staff with technical and program software questions. They can be contacted via phone or email, and can also make field visits to your office or a Home Performance project. They will also perform quality control measures on the work completed and in process.
Eligibility and Training
When can I attend the program orientation?
Once your company has been approved, you may contact DEGeneral@FranklinEnergy.com to schedule a date to attend a program orientation at no cost. The orientation is open to any of your staff members who would like to learn about the program details.
What takes place at the program orientation?
At the 2 – 3 hour program orientation, you will learn program details and have the opportunity for open dialogue with the program representatives.
Do I get reimbursed for the costs of the Home Performance BPI Building Analyst & Envelope Professional training and certification courses?
No, currently reimbursements are not available.
How can I get help using the Home Performance software?
The HPwES Program offers webinars and in-person trainings that cover technical and software procedures. Also offered are recording of webinars that detail how to enter data and how to generate required documents from the software. These recordings are available upon request through DEGeneral@FranklinEnergy.com.
If I have questions about specific aspects of the Home Performance Program, who do I contact?
Send a request for information to DEGeneral@FranklinEnergy.com