NREL provides technical assistance and research to support quality work and qualified workers in the weatherization and home performance industry.
NREL offers technical and programmatic support to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which aims to reduce energy costs for low-income households by increasing their homes' energy efficiency while ensuring health and safety standards. For more than a decade, NREL's efforts have supported DOE's consistent and efficient implementation of WAP and have contributed resources to the weatherization workforce as a whole.
NREL provides assistance to the weatherization and home performance industry through:
- Maintaining technical specifications and tools
- Developing innovative approaches to strengthen workforce skills and qualifications
- Collaborating with training providers and industry stakeholders
- Fostering continuous improvement through workshops and trainings.
Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals
NREL's weatherization work began with DOE's Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals program, which provides universal resources to support quality work and a skilled, credentialed workforce for home energy upgrades. NREL develops and maintains resources including:
NREL developed the Standard Work Specifications in 2012 to support effective, durable, and safe home energy upgrades. Created with the help of private, public, and federal experts, the web-based Standard Work Specifications resource defines the quality of work for energy upgrades on single family, multifamily, and manufactured housing. This resource is maintained and regularly updated with input from industry professionals.
The Installer Badges Toolkit consists of 25 badges that represent different retrofit tasks an installer can perform on a home. The badges provide consistent workforce development practices and training resources, ensuring that installers across the country are learning the same skills. This toolkit offers energy professionals across the home performance industry a way to document their achievement of essential skills as they progress in their careers.
Weatherization Assistance Program Administrative Trainings
In addition to technical training, NREL developed multiple series of online WAP trainings for weatherization professionals focused on program administration. The online courses, with more than 3,500 users, cover subjects such as subcontracting, client interaction, and program management. Select trainings are offered in both English and Spanish.
Weatherization Assistant Tool
NREL supports the transition of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Weatherization Assistant from a desktop, degree-day simulation to a web-based application using DOE's physics-based EnergyPlus as the modeling engine. The Weatherization Assistant is a suite of four energy audit tools that help states and local weatherization agencies implement the WAP.
Continuous Improvement Workshops
NREL hosts a series of annual Continuous Improvement Workshops, which provide a forum for WAP stakeholders to share feedback and engage with DOE on tangible ways to improve program implementation and address stakeholder challenges. Past workshops have addressed topics such as COVID-19 adjustments, the annual planning process, improvement of federal WAP resources, and organizational culture.
Since the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, WAP funds may be used to implement renewable technologies such as solar. Low-and-moderate income households spend nearly three times as much as other households on energy; including solar services as part of WAP can significantly reduce their energy costs. NREL is expanding its research on low-income solar access pathways, including improving the ability of weatherization programs to implement solar. To learn more, see DOE's Low-Income Community Energy Solutions.
The Future of the Home Performance Industry
Weatherization standards advance work quality throughout the entire home performance industry by providing universal resources to support quality work and a skilled, credentialed workforce. The investment from DOE into resources such as the Standard Work Specifications provides quality guidelines not just for WAP professionals, but for other utility and energy efficiency programs. NREL collaborates with partner organizations to continue to provide timely and valuable resources, information, and assistance to the home performance industry as a whole.
NREL's vision is a clean energy future for the world. As such, NREL focuses on developing and delivering solutions that enable all people to participate in and benefit from the transition to sustainable energy.
Key Takeaways from Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) Wage Study and Analysis, NASCSP 2021 Annual Training Conference (2021)
Make the Most of Online Weatherization Training Resources, NREL Presentation (2021)
Low-Moderate Income (LMI) Solar Context for WAP, NREL Presentation (2021)
Developing Subgrantee Administrative Training for the Weatherization Assistance Program, NREL Technical Report (2020)
Weatherization Crew Leader Job Task Analysis, NREL Technical Report (2019)
Single-Family Quality Control Inspector Job Task Analysis, NREL Technical Report (2018)
Single-Family Energy Auditor Job Task Analysis, NREL Technical Report (2018)
Multifamily Retrofit Project Manager Job Task Analysis and Report, NREL Technical Report (2013)
About the U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program
About 50 million people live in low-income households and spend a disproportionately higher percentage of their paychecks on energy costs than others, according to DOE. Weatherization is an essential part of alleviating the energy burden these households experience. Since 1976, WAP has offered low-income households free services to upgrade their homes to be more energy efficient, which in turn helps them save money and improve their health and safety in their homes. Learn more on DOE's WAP website.
To learn more about how NREL's supports weatherization, or to partner with us, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.