A great deal of the energy consumed in running a facility or powering a home is used for heating. In homes, for example, the Department of Energy estimates that some 41 percent of expended energy is used specifically for space heating. For this reason, energy efficiency upgrades like an improved furnace can yield tremendous savings. The government, through agencies like the Department of Energy, provides funding to assist with these upgrades.

Recovery Act Grants for Industrial Energy Efficiency

One major grant program that has provided funding for energy efficiency upgrades is the Industrial Energy Efficiency grant through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. This program supports projects ranging from weatherization improvements like insulation and window upgrades to space heater upgrades and improved furnace efficiency. The funding from this program also assists with improvements that help industrial operations get more out of their furnaces through cogeneration--a practice where the waste heat from generating electricity can be used to warm facilities. As a result of these sorts of improvements, industrial operations can often reduce their operating costs and meet their commitments to the environment.

Weatherization Assistance Program

Another grant opportunity funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act is the Weatherization Assistance Program, a state-administered investment in improving the energy efficiency of homes and businesses through upgrades to insulation, improvements to housing, and furnace replacement. Low-income households can be eligible for direct assistance under this program in improving the heating appliances of their homes. Most of this funding is made available through state and local social service agencies. Many of these programs are implemented at the county level, but some of this assistance is offered to low-income households through local networks of non-profits and charities targeting homeowners.

Housing and Urban Development Green Retrofit Program

Some of the Federal grant programs are designed to help with energy efficiency retrofits--including heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades--in publicly supported housing. The Green Retrofit Program administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides grant funding for multi-family housing facilities that assist low-income, elderly, and disabled people. Like the Weatherization Assistance Program, the projects funded under the Green Retrofit Program are fairly diverse: money is available for furnace replacements and upgrades as well as improvements to water heaters, doors and windows, insulation, and ventilation equipment. Grant applications for this program are accepted through Housing and Urban Development, which determines the eligibility and feasibility of projects before awarding them with funding.