The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their residential homes, while ensuring their health and safety. It is the nation’s largest single residential whole-house energy efficiency program.
The Program’s primary purpose, established by law, is:
“…to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reduce their total residential energy expenditures, and improve their health and safety, especially low-income persons who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, the disabled, and children.”
It serves low-income families free of charge and limits the amount of money that can be spent on any single residence as determined by federal rules. The average expenditure on a weatherized home is $6,500. As a result, only the most cost-effective measures are included in the upgrade of a particular home.
To implement the Weatherization Assistance Program, DOE receives funding through annual Congressional appropriations and uses an allocation formula to calculate the award formula grants for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and Indian tribes. Then these organizations usually contract with local agencies to implement weatherization measures. Over 700 local organizations deliver the Weatherization Assistance Program services to eligible residents within their communities.
Weatherization differs in many ways from what is commonly referred to as "weatherizing your home." The latter involves low-cost improvements like adding weatherstripping to doors and windows to save energy. The Weatherization Assistance Program takes the "whole house weatherization” approach that analyzes all of the building systems—the building envelope, heating and cooling systems, electrical system, and electric baseload appliances—through the completion of an energy audit.
Another distinguishing feature of WAP is the attention to the overall health and safety of the clients being served and the weatherization providers. Many dwellings receiving attention are old and in need of repair. Weatherization service providers use check the building envelope and major energy systems to ensure there are no safety concerns for the occupants before installing any energy efficiency measures. In recent years, WAP providers in many areas combine resources from other programs to address the needs that the Weatherization Assistance Program cannot address.
Because of this rigorous approach and analyses backing it up, the Weatherization Assistance Program has become a leader in advancing residential building energy science and in helping expand a new industry providing home energy efficiency services to the wider public.
Since the inception of the Program in 1976, more than 7 million households have received weatherization services. Learn about the history of the Weatherization Assistance Program.