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This Sunday, National Weatherization Day, the Energy Department joins 13 states – Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin – and several hundred local agencies in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the department’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).
WAP has advanced energy efficiency in low-income households through grants to states, territories, and Native American tribes. The program has 59 grantees, including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and three Native American tribes. The grantees contract to more than 700 community action agencies, nonprofits, and local governments to weatherize homes.
Since its inception in 1976, WAP has facilitated energy efficiency improvements in more than 7 million homes. In a typical program year, WAP supports about 8,500 jobs while reducing carbon emissions by more than 2 million metric tons.
“For 40 years the Weatherization Assistance Program has been a springboard for innovative home performance energy practices, improving the health and quality of life of millions of low-income families," said David Friedman, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "The program continues to evolve through cutting-edge practices to select cost-effective and safe measures for homeowners.”
Companies and communities at the state and local level are often indirectly stimulated by WAP investments. For example, local equipment companies seek to innovate and supply weatherization technicians with the best technology and software, creating jobs and economic growth. Additionally, state agencies often contract with local weatherization work crews, helping area businesses.
Each year, communities and community action agencies partner to provide energy efficiency services to an average of 43,000 homes across the nation, saving homeowners an average of $283 per household. This savings is especially significant given that some households spend as much as 20 percent of their total income on energy.
One of the ways the program helps save energy and money for occupants is through a “whole house” approach. Weatherization technicians recognize that a building’s shell, appliances, and occupants all affect the safety and comfort of a home. This approach ensures that all parts of the home work together to maximize efficiency, comfort, and health. It often requires upgrades that enhance insulation, air sealing, and heating and cooling systems. Recently, solar PV installation was added to the program’s suite of services.
Ohio’s commemoration of National Weatherization Day will be especially momentous. Agencies Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action and the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD) will celebrate Weatherize Nelsonville, their second project devoted to weatherizing an entire town, including commercial and public buildings. The agencies and their partners Columbia Gas of Ohio and American Electric Power will showcase the community project, offering workshops, demonstrations, and testimonials from clients. Since WAP began, COAD and its partner agencies have weatherized over 100,000 homes through Ohio’s Appalachian Counties.
The Energy Department joins local agencies in celebrating the significance of this program that has raised the bar beyond home occupant savings and is strengthening and expanding a network of accredited weatherization training centers. WAP has established a gold standard for the entire home energy retrofit workforce.