Free Window Replacement Grants for Low-Income Families

The federal government does not provide window replacement grants directly to low-income families.

However, the money does trickle down through state agencies to local providers that provide specific free energy-efficient upgrades to eligible homeowners.

As with any public benefit, it is not easy to navigate through the maze of departments and agencies to learn if you qualify and then apply for the assistance.

Plus, low-income homeowners have four government resources worth exploring in 2022, complicating the pathway further.

Fortunately, you can easily find the correct starting point for each government window replacement option. Begin with the Weatherization Assistance Program, as its mission aligns closely with your objective.  

WAP Free Window Replacement Grants

Low-income families qualify for free window replacement grants most frequently through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Its primary mission is to reduce heating and cooling costs by improving the energy efficiency of homes.

The Department of Energy (DOE) funds WAP, while local companies implement the program following their guidelines. They prioritize projects using a Savings Investment Ratio (SIR).

Qualifications

Low-income families must meet specific qualifications before the local WAP organization offers a grant for energy-efficient window replacement at no cost to the homeowner.

WAP prefers the elderly, physically disabled residents, families with children under 12, and households with repeatedly high utility bills.

Local Providers

Contact your state WAP administrator to start your journey towards possible window grants for homeowners. In addition to meeting the qualifications noted above, you will need to take several steps.

  1. Identify your local WAP provider. Your state could have a single online application, while others will refer you to a list of participating organizations.
  2. Complete the application process by providing proof of income from the previous year and household size.
  3. Prepare to have the local provider send a representative to your home to perform an energy audit to determine if you are eligible for free services based on the Savings Investment Ratio (SIR).

Florida

Apply for Florida window replacement grants through the WAP website maintained by the FL Department of Economic Opportunity.

Given the hot, humid weather, the Florida version might prioritize the installation of solar screens to limit the sunlight entering your home, as it might score a higher SIR rating than upgrading more expensive windows.

Complete a client intake form and submit it to your local agency to start the process.

California

Apply for the California window replacement grants through the WAP website maintained by the CA Department of Community Services & Development.

In addition to the federal WAP initiative, California offers a separate Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), funded through the state, that could help more families.

LIWP strives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy, and generate clean electricity through three components.

  1. Farmworker Housing
  2. Community Solar Pilot
  3. Multi-Family Energy-Efficiency

Texas

Apply for the Texas window replacement grants through a website maintained by the TX Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), which publishes links to other free government resources, including WAP.

TDHCA receives the federal grant money and allocates the funding to local organizations that help those in need. Therefore, your task is to identify and contact the entities near your home.

For instance, four organizations support WAP in the Dallas area.

  1. Texas Information and Referral Network
  2. Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services
  3. Texoma Council of Governments
  4. Department of Veteran Affairs

Other Free Window Replacement Grants

Low-income families can also find free window replacement grants through other government programs that promote energy efficiency or assist specific homeowners, such as senior citizens.

As before, a federal department establishes the program objectives and funding, but you apply for the assistance through a state or county-level agency.

LIHEAP

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides grants for window replacement less frequently because its primary mission is to manage home utility bills, while weatherization is a secondary objective.

LIHEAP, run at the federal level by the US Department of Health & Human Services (Office of Community Services), sends block grants to each state. Then, state agencies allocate the money to local providers to administer the program.

Find Local LIHEAP providers using this online tool.

  1. Enter your state into the dropdown menu
  2. Select the county of your current resident
  3. Click on the yellow dot closest to your location
  4. Contact the energy services provider to see if you qualify

Weatherization

According to the LIHEAP Clearinghouse Report,[1] each state determines how to disperse the federal grants, and you will find varying levels of assistance based on where you live.

  • Caulking and insulation
  • Water conservation measures
  • CFL light bulbs

New York

The New York State LIHEAP website does not mention free window replacement, although the Clearinghouse Report indicates they allocate 10% of the grant money to weatherization.

The NYS LIHEAP prioritizes helping low-income families heat their homes with electricity, natural gas, oil, and other fuels by making direct payments to the energy vendors such as Con Edison.

  • Regular benefits of $21 to $675
  • Arrears supplement benefit up to $10,000
  • Emergency benefits to avoid shutoffs
  • Heating equipment repair and replacement
  • Cleaning and tuning of heating equipment
  • Cooling assistance to purchase air conditioning

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania LIHEAP website does not mention free window replacement, although the Clearinghouse Report indicates they allocate 15% of their federal grant money to weatherization services.

Instead, the PA site focuses on two benefits designed to help low-income families pay heating bills.

  • Cash grants: one-time payment sent directly to utility companies
  • Crisis grants: helps families with a heating emergency
    • Broken equipment or leaking lines
    • Lack of fuel or dwindling supply
    • Danger of service termination due to delinquency

Energy Star

The Energy Star program provides conceptual window replacement grants via future cost savings on utility bills for oil, gas, or electricity. Installing Energy Star certified windows lowers household energy costs by an average of 12% nationwide. [2]

Energy Star is a government-backed (US Environmental Protection Agency) symbol for energy efficiency, supporting utility-sponsored rebates for appliances, heating and cooling systems, and light bulbs, but no windows or doors.

Therefore, the conceptual Energy Star grant can only work as an investment with a reasonable return over the project’s lifetime. Financing the window replacement can spread payments over many years, making the numbers work better.

  • Average cost to replace 25 panes and frames: $15,000
  • Lifetime energy savings across 25 years: $12,000
  • Annual gas and electricity expense: $4,000
  • Average savings on energy costs (12%): $480

Senior Citizens

Window replacement grant programs for senior citizens include two of the three government components noted above, plus an additional element: Section 504 through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

First, many seniors rely on fixed Social Security retirement benefits, which do not stretch very far. The meager monthly check could make them eligible for two low-income window replacement programs.

  1. LIHEAP
  2. WAP

Second, older adults typically plan to remain in their homes for less time because their life expectancy is shorter. Therefore, the Energy Star utility bills savings of 12% annually for replacement windows have less impact on the return on investment calculation.

Third, USDA Section 504 grants of up to $7,500 could go towards purchasing and installing replacement windows, provided the project remediates health and safety hazards. To qualify, the senior must meet these criteria.

  • Be the homeowner and occupy the residence
  • Reside in an eligible rural area
  • Unable to obtain a loan elsewhere (bad credit)
  • Have a family income below 50% of the area median
  • Unable to repay a restoration loan

Article Citations:

[1] LIHEAP Clearinghouse Report

[2] Energy Star Windows and Skylights