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DNV’s Playbook for IRA Home Energy Rebate Program Success: 5 Keys for Effective Contractor Support & Management

The IRA Home Rebate Programs are a pivotal initiative funded by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 that will jumpstart the transition to a sustainable energy future. These groundbreaking programs provide rebates for home energy efficiency and electrification projects, including efficiency measures such as air sealing, insulation, duct sealing, smart thermostats, and electric equipment such as heat pumps, water heaters, stoves, and dryers. These measures can help reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and utility bills, as well as improve comfort and health.

State Energy Offices are at the forefront of executing the IRA Home Rebate Programs, and their success largely depends on the quality and performance of the installation contractors. How can states ensure that contractors are well-trained, motivated, and aligned with the program requirements such that they can deliver results for households and position themselves to take advantage of this historic opportunity?

Drawing from a series of comprehensive surveys conducted yearly since 2015, and experiences managing programs across North America, DNV has accumulated valuable insights into contractor participation in energy efficiency programs. Over 2,000 survey responses from contractors and distributors provide valuable insights into program application processes, incentives, quality assurance, and communication, and others. The survey results highlight areas for improvement to enhance the overall experience of contractors and distributors.

While contractors and distributors have found things about the program to love, citing benefits like increased sales and customer loyalty, they also report challenges including complicated application procedures and inconsistent inspections. The survey results revealed some key insights and best practices for contractor support and management that can also be adapted for the IRA Home Rebate Program. Here are 5 things we found crucial to successful program implementation:

  • Streamline Program Access & Efficient Processes: First and foremost, program clarity and accessibility are vital. Contractors should have easy access to program details through online resources, comprehensive manuals, standardized forms, and checklists. Additionally, a digital platform that simplifies application submissions, document management, status tracking, and expedited payment processes can significantly enhance efficiency. This approach minimizes delays and unnecessary rework, ensuring contractors can focus on what they do best – delivering quality energy efficiency and electrification improvements.
  • Provide Attractive Incentives & Recognition Programs: An effective incentive structure is a powerful motivator. Beyond financial incentives, recognizing and rewarding exceptional work is equally important. Whether it’s through newsletters, awards, or bonus incentives, acknowledging contractors’ efforts fosters a sense of appreciation and encourages persistent excellence in their work.
  • Ensure Robust Technical Support & Quality Assurance Coaching: Easy access to knowledgeable program staff for problem resolution is crucial. Training opportunities for mastering new skills and technologies through various modes like webinars, workshops, or certification programs are also beneficial. Regular, constructive feedback helps contractors continuously improve their service quality. Additionally, a clear and robust system of quality assurance means that contractors will understand the standards to which they will be held and supported if they are struggling to meet those standards.
  • Develop Comprehensive Marketing & Education Support: Providing marketing materials and tools is essential for contractors to grow and expand their businesses. These resources empower contractors to be an extension of the program’s sales team and assist them in promoting the programs and educating customers about the benefits of energy efficiency.
  • Create an Inclusive Contractor Advisory Group: Finally, fostering a collaborative environment is crucial for shared success. Establishing a contractor advisory group encourages open dialogue and collective problem-solving, bringing together diverse perspectives from contractors, program staff, and state representatives. This inclusive approach ensures that programs are well-rounded, considering the practical insights and experiences of those on the front lines.

Additionally, Tips for Success from DOE’s Residential Program Guide covers how to recruit contractors who never participated in energy efficiency programs, including but not limited to:

  • Designing a program that considers contractors’ seasonal business cycles
  • Lowering barriers to participate in energy efficiency programs, including fostering temporary labor and reducing the startup cost through grants and loans for equipment purchases
  • Offering partial rebate payments at project start to ease contractor cash-flow challenges.

Contact us

Angela Ziech-Malek

Angela Ziech-Malek

Director of IRA Programs

Energy in transition


State Energy Offices, with workforce development partners, can play a pivotal role by promoting vocational training and apprenticeships, facilitating mentorship programs with established contractors, and offering business development support. This not only broadens the pool of skilled professionals but also fosters economic growth within local communities, ensuring that these projects persist beyond the programs. Implementors with rich experience in contractor management can help State Energy Offices to ensure that contractors are well-supported, leading to enhanced customer experiences and contributing to the broader goals of energy efficiency and sustainability.

Let’s discuss: How can states and implementers further innovate contractor engagement strategies to build a more inclusive, skilled, and sustainable workforce? States’ insights and actions are key to propelling the IRA Home Rebate Program toward success. By focusing on comprehensive contractor support and inclusive workforce development, State Energy Offices and implementors can collectively ensure that the benefits of energy efficiency and electrification reach every corner of every state.