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Insulation is a key element of weatherization because it provides resistance to heat flow which lowers a family’s heating and cooling costs. Insulation is especially important for homes in arctic climates, like this home in Alaska. The Energy Department's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and its network of Alaskan service providers are working to improve the condition of the state’s affordable housing stock, while reducing utility bills for low-income Alaskans.
Alaska’s extreme winter climate makes heating homes expensive. Residential electricity costs are 60 percent more than the United States on average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. These high costs have a crippling impact on the state’s low-income community.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and its network of service providers in Alaska are working to improve the condition of the state’s affordable housing stock, while reducing utility bills for low-income Alaskans and improving the health of their homes. In 2016, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation will distribute more than $1.5 million in WAP funding to weatherization service providers across the state.
One weatherization provider, the Alaska Community Development Corporation, combines WAP funding with state resources dedicated to increasing energy efficiency in remote communities. The Enhanced Weatherization Program provides housing upgrades through extensive repairs, heating and electrical improvements, and energy conservation measures in Alaska’s Lake and Peninsula Borough.
This program allows weatherization crews to enter a home and perform energy audits with advanced diagnostic equipment, such as a blower door, manometer or infrared camera, to determine the most appropriate measures for each home.
In the Village of Egegik, located on the south coast of Bristol Bay, Alaska’s Enhanced Weatherization Program implemented significant improvements in a single-family home. As much as $2,000 in savings were achieved each year, with a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption. Another customer’s annual fuel use dropped by more than 300 gallons after the energy-efficient measures were installed.
Federal funding for weatherization efforts in Alaska is supplemented by financial investment from the state, utilities, and other organizations. With increased funding for each home weatherized, upgrades in these communities can go beyond energy efficiency and include rehabilitation of the structures. For example, weather barrier improvements are made through this program to ensure the newly installed insulation is effective and long-lasting.
The Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program was created to assist low-income families lacking the resources to sustain an energy-efficient household. Across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the five U.S. territories and three Native American tribes, the work of WAP contributes to a family’s self-sufficiency and safety, and breathes new life into homes and communities.
Since its inception in 1976, WAP has retrofitted nearly seven million homes. A recent evaluation of the program shows that one weatherized home yields an average savings-to-investment ratio of $1.47. A single-family home can save roughly $283 annually in energy costs when it’s weatherized
The Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office provides funding and technical assistance to partners in state and local governments, Native American tribes, and international agencies to facilitate the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.