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Unlocking The Benefits Of Free Water Heater Programs: What You Need To Know

Written by: Dane Groves
Last updated: November 3, 2023

In the realm of energy efficiency and cost-saving measures, free water heater programs have emerged as a significant boon for homeowners and businesses alike. These programs, often sponsored by local utility companies or government agencies, offer a range of benefits that extend beyond mere cost savings.

This blog explores the benefits of free water heater programs and their impact on energy efficiency for homeowners & businesses. 

Understanding Free Water Heater Programs

Free water heater programs are initiatives designed to replace outdated, energy-consuming water heaters with newer, more efficient models. These programs are typically offered by utility companies or local government agencies as part of their broader energy efficiency and conservation efforts.

Exploring Noteworthy Free Water Heater Programs

Here are some of the free water heater programs available in the United States:

Energy Savings Assistance Program By Socalgas

This program provides qualified renters and homeowners with home improvements that help save energy and reduce natural gas consumption. The Energy Savings Assistance Program by Socalgas offers a range of services to help lower income households conserve energy and save money. These services include installation of energy-efficient appliances such as furnaces, water heaters, and insulation, all at no cost to the qualified participant. The goal of this initiative is not only to help customers save on their utility bills but also to contribute to the broader effort of reducing energy consumption and minimizing environmental impact. Customers can apply through the Socalgas website or over the phone, and eligibility is determined based on income level and household size.

Energy Savings Assistance Program By Southern California Edison

The ESA program is designed to help consumers conserve energy and includes services such as heat pump water heater replacement and pool pump replacement. In addition to these services, the ESA program by Southern California Edison also offers other energy-saving measures that can potentially lower your monthly bill and make your home more comfortable. This includes the installation of energy-efficient lighting, refrigerators, and air conditioning units, as well as weather-stripping and insulation to reduce heat loss. Furthermore, the program also provides education on how to use these appliances efficiently and how to conserve energy in your daily life. All these services are provided at no cost to eligible customers, making it easier for everyone to contribute to a more sustainable future.

Pacific Gas & Electric's LIHEAP Program

Furnace and water heater repair or replacement may be available to eligible homeowners when PG&E determines existing natural gas units are inoperative or unsafe.  As part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Pacific Gas & Electric offers necessary assistance to qualified low-income homeowners to ensure their homes remain safe and comfortable. The program aims to enhance the energy efficiency of homes, thereby reducing energy consumption, lowering utility bills, and improving living conditions. If the homeowner's furnace or water heater is deemed unsafe or inoperative by PG&E, they may be eligible for repair or replacement services. This not only ensures the safety of the household but also contributes to energy conservation on a broader scale.

Public Housing Energy Conservation Clearinghouse

This program by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) promotes the replacement of inefficient water heaters in public housing to achieve significant energy savings. The Public Housing Energy Conservation Clearinghouse initiative not only encourages the adoption of energy-efficient appliances but also fosters the development of sustainable practices in public housing. Through this program, HUD seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of public housing and improve the living conditions for residents. The program also educates the residents on the importance of energy conservation and the role they can play in achieving it. The replacement of outdated water heaters with energy-efficient models is just one aspect of the program; other elements include the promotion of energy-efficient lighting, insulation, and HVAC systems. By doing so, HUD aims to lower energy costs, reduce maintenance needs, and improve the overall sustainability of public housing.

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

The Weatherization Assistance Program is the most established method to obtain a free or low-cost water heater from the government. This program, established by the U.S. Department of Energy, aims to reduce energy usage and costs by providing services intended to improve energy efficiency, including the provision of free or low-cost water heaters.

  • Administered by: The Department of Energy.

  • Benefits:

    • Supports various upgrades for low-income homeowners if the project reduces electricity or gas consumption.

    • Potential upgrades include insulation, weather stripping, heating and cooling unit upgrades, water heater replacements, appliance updates, window and door upgrades, and more.

  • Application: Apply through your state agency. A local contractor will conduct a home energy audit to generate recommendations.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

An indirect government initiative offering free water heater replacement. LIHEAP offers free water heaters to low-income families and those in need.

  • Administered by: The US Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Benefits:

    • Primarily focuses on lowering utility bills (gas and electric).

    • Can pay for a new unit if the existing one consumes excessive gas.

  • Application: Apply through your state agency to lower the total cost of ownership for any new or existing unit.

Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

A new government program offering free water heaters.

  • Benefits:

    • Provides rebates and tax credits for equipment that uses electricity rather than gas.

    • The IRA rebate program offers free heat pump-powered water heaters to low-income households and provides assistance to those with modest annual earnings.

    • Rebates of up to $14,000 for purchasing and installing specific equipment.

  • Tax Credits: A non-refundable IRA tax credit program provides water heater assistance to families with higher incomes. Credits of up to $3,200 are available for making qualified energy-efficient improvements.

Section 504

A program for free water heaters for senior citizens living in rural areas.

  • Administered by: The US Department of Agriculture.

  • Benefits:

    • Provides up to $10,000 of assistance.

    • Recipients do not have to repay the money when addressing health and safety hazards, such as a leaky water heater.

  • Application: Apply for Section 504 grants by contacting your local rural development office.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Low-Income Families: Often qualify for free water heaters as they live at or below the federal poverty level. Each program has different earnings criteria.

  • Disabled Individuals: May be eligible for free water heaters, especially if they meet the low-income criteria. SSI recipients have an advantage over SSDI recipients.

  • Senior Citizens: Those relying on Social Security Retirement Income may qualify for free water heaters through WAP, LIHEAP, and IRA. Section 504 is another option for older adults living in rural areas.

These programs are designed to assist various segments of the population in obtaining energy-efficient water heaters, thereby promoting energy conservation and reducing utility bills.

Energy Savings Assistance Program

The Energy Savings Assistance Program is a California-based initiative that provides free energy-efficient home improvements to eligible customers. This includes the provision of energy-efficient water heaters. The program is administered by SoCalGas and is available to eligible customers in Southern California.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

TheHome Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a New York-based initiative that provides financial assistance to low-income households to meet their home energy needs. This includes the provision of energy-efficient water heaters. The program is administered by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and is available to eligible households in New York.

Energy Outreach Colorado

Energy Outreach Colorado is a non-profit organization that provides energy assistance to low-income households in Colorado. This includes the provision of energy-efficient water heaters. The organization works in partnership with other community organizations to deliver its services.

Delving Into The Benefits Of Free Water Heater Programs

Free water heater programs offer numerous benefits to eligible households. These benefits include:

Reduced Energy Costs

Energy-efficient water heaters use less energy than standard water heaters. This is primarily because these types of heaters take less time to heat the water. Additionally, high-efficiency heaters are also well insulated, which enhances energy efficiency. These factors mean that it's usually far more cost-effective to use efficient water heaters over other methods as you'll be saving a significant amount of money on your heating bill in the long run.

Lower Maintenance

Unlike conventional water heaters, high-efficiency water heaters have lower maintenance requirements. This is because advanced technology is used to produce these heaters and the manufacturers adhere to high standards. This guarantees the efficiency when it comes to the hot water supply. Additionally, energy-efficient water heaters require less maintenance.


Energy-efficient water heaters utilize less energy and produce minimal greenhouse emissions. In contrast, high-energy heaters cause more pollution and are bad for the environment. By opting for an energy-efficient water heater, you are making a more environmentally friendly choice.

Improved Home Comfort

Energy-efficient water heaters provide a consistent supply of hot water, improving the comfort of your home. Whether you're taking a shower, washing dishes, or doing laundry, you can rely on your water heater to meet your needs without worrying about running out of hot water.

Increased Home Value

Installing an energy-efficient water heater can increase the value of your home. Energy efficiency is a desirable feature for many homebuyers, and having an energy-efficient water heater can make your home more attractive on the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

To provide a better understanding of the free water heater program, we have addressed some of the more common queries people have.

How can I apply for a free water heater program?

The application process varies depending on the specific program. Generally, you will need to contact the administering organization or visit their website for application details. You may need to provide proof of income and other eligibility requirements.

Who is eligible for free water heater programs?

Eligibility criteria vary by program. Typically, these programs are designed for low-income households, seniors, or those living in energy-inefficient homes. It's best to check with the specific program for detailed eligibility criteria.

What types of water heaters are provided through these programs?

Most programs provide energy-efficient water heaters, including tankless water heaters and high-efficiency tank water heaters. The specific type of water heater provided will depend on the program and the needs of the household.

Are there free water heater programs in my state?

Many states have free water heater programs or similar energy assistance programs. It's best to check with your local utility company, state energy office, or local community organizations for programs in your area.

Can I choose the type of water heater I receive?

Typically, the type of water heater provided is determined by the program based on the needs of the household and the goal of energy efficiency. However, some programs may allow you to choose between different types of energy-efficient water heaters.

What are the benefits of energy-efficient water heaters?

Energy-efficient water heaters use less energy, save you money on your energy bills, require less maintenance, are more environmentally friendly, and can increase the comfort and value of your home.

Take Advantage Of Free Water Heater Programs

Free water heater programs offer a multitude of benefits, from energy efficiency and cost savings to environmental conservation. By understanding these programs and their benefits, homeowners and businesses can make informed decisions that contribute to their financial well-being and the health of the planet.

Explore our resources to learn more about home improvement aid programs. Check out Gov Relations and our guide to getting home improvement loans in Texas.

Dane Groves
Dane Groves is the senior writer of Gov Relations. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from National University. During Dane’s whole five years with the company, he has helped train and guide new writers. Dane works closely with Dulcie to ensure that new writers are able to produce content that is of high quality and engaging, relevant, and informative to readers.
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