Most types of energy conservation grants are aimed at improving the energy efficiency of commercial, public or residential buildings and resources. Some types of grants focus on using specific forms of energy, including wind or natural gas. Quite a few reward businesses and individuals for improving the energy efficiency of existing structures, appliances or heating and cooling systems. Energy conservation grants are typically available through government and utility companies.
Some types of energy conservation grants are provided for residential consumers who have a desire to invest in the energy efficiency of their homes. These grants help offset the costs of improvements to existing appliance systems, such as furnaces, air conditioners and kitchen appliances. Some of the money from these grants covers part of the costs associated with transitioning from one form of energy use to another. For example, there have been government sponsored rebates and grants that reduce the installation costs of solar panels and conversion from conventional to solar or wind powered electricity.
Government energy conservation grants awarded to businesses to research and develop new green and renewable energy sources are another type of grant. Private companies are sometimes paid to test and develop untapped sources of energy, including hydroelectric power. Some of these organizations focus on finding practical ways to use those energy sources in existing products, such as automobiles. Part of the grant funds may be passed on to consumers willing to try and adopt these products during their first few years on the market.
In addition to research funds, governments also give businesses incentives to use sustainable energy and reduce traditional energy use. Individual businesses may be given kickbacks and development money if they achieve a certain level of energy efficiency with their manufacturing processes and come up with innovative ways to benefit the environment. For instance, some companies may change the packaging on some of their products to biodegradable material or reduce their chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) output.
Local governments are sometimes able to obtain funds from national energy conservation grants to improve and upgrade public facilities. The improvements usually have to increase the energy efficiency of a city's existing resources, such as public utility plants, outdoor street lighting and public buildings. Examples of public buildings include libraries and courthouses primarily used by local taxpayers. These types of grants are usually provided by national energy departments and may have stipulations as to the completion timeline and types of contractors that can be used for the project.