QR codes aren’t just for restaurant menus

Optimizing electric appliance data and reporting to unlock a new home energy information ecosystem

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is poised to deliver billions of dollars in rebates and tax credits to drive the adoption of efficient electric heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, induction stoves, electric vehicles, and rooftop solar systems across the United States over the next decade. Federal agencies and state governments are now designing programs to deliver these historic climate investments.

The federal government must leverage the IRA to improve its collection and sharing of data around electric appliance uptake. All of this can be achieved through select improvements to product labeling, data collection, storage, accessibility, and reporting, including:

  • Standardizing data collection for IRA rebates and tax credits as efficient electric machines are deployed across the U.S.;
  • Introducing digital product labeling for energy equipment that will radically improve house-level information and empower consumers; and
  • Enhancing agency reporting of incentive uptake and product information to provide a critical resource for tracking the effectiveness of IRA implementation.

Key recommendations include

Data collection

To most effectively implement the IRA, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and State Energy Offices (SEOs) must collect timely information about the types of equipment that are installed in buildings across the country, along with equipment and installation costs and amounts claimed for rebates and tax credits.

Digital labeling

To further streamline and modernize data collection, the federal government should introduce digital appliance labeling requirements along with the PIN requirement. This could, for example, take the form of a QR code printed on every EnergyGuide label and permanently affixed to every product nameplate. QR codes are common, standardized machine-readable labels that provide a URL link to an online resource. When affixed to an appliance, purchasers and installers could scan a QR code with a smartphone app (e.g., from a rebate provider, the IRS, TurboTax, or H&R Block) in a way that would automatically and reliably fill in required details to verify eligibility and streamline claim filing.

Data Storage, accessibility, and reporting

Detailed statistical reporting on the implementation of electrification rebate and tax credit programs will enhance IRA implementation. It will enable program administrators to identify and take action to resolve discrepancies in the distribution of incentives and tax credits within or across geographic regions, allowing for targeted improvements in program design throughout the 10-year IRA implementation period.