This Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) success story from Minnesota shows the benefit of partnering with local service providers and braiding funds to reach energy and economic goals.

Minnesota Weatherization Leading the Way

The Minnesota Weatherization Assistance Program, administered by the Minnesota State Energy Office within the MN Department of Commerce’s Energy Division (COMM), is partnering with local Service Providers (SPs), to lead the way in bringing benefits of energy efficiency to income-eligible Minnesota households. COMM and the SPs created a robust weatherization assistance program by leveraging funds from four distinct funding sources.  

Since its establishment in 1976, WAP has delivered weatherization services to over seven million low-income households, generating an average of $372 in annual energy savings for American families. 

The program provides targeted and transformative weatherization services to reduce energy use and costs for Minnesotans while simultaneously improving the health, safety, and comfort of their homes. This innovative and comprehensive program is supported in part by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program, aligning with DOE’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and advance energy and environmental justice. 

Weatherization services refer to a broad set of upgrades and services that improve the energy efficiency, health, and safety of homes—from installing energy-efficient lighting and appliances to repairing air and water leaks and adding needed insulation.

Innovative Program Design Leads to Success

The program owes much of its success to innovation in program design and implementation by DOE partners at the state and local level. In Minnesota, COMM and the SPs braid funds from the following sources:

  • WAP
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Utilities
  • Designated state funds.

These funding sources are used to create a comprehensive program that accomplishes multiple energy and economic goals and reaches households with more acute and severe weatherization needs.

Through the program, eligible households receive traditional weatherization upgrades that can drastically improve the energy efficiency of their homes, saving energy and money. But many households face challenges, including cancer-causing asbestos-laden materials, that prevent their homes from receiving comprehensive services. In fact, most homes that are not “weatherization-ready” are often the most in need of weatherization services.

In response to lack of weatherization readiness, many weatherization programs throughout the country are developing innovative ways to reach these households. Minnesota’s program provides resources to make more households weatherization-ready through the removal of vermiculite, an insulation material that contains asbestos and whose presence in a home is a common barrier to weatherization readiness.
By braiding funding resources from multiple sources and leveraging the network of SPs in Minnesota, the program combines every key step for high-quality weatherization service into a single program, from client intake to quality assurance checks of the completed work by certified inspectors.

These services are proving critical for reducing energy costs for income-eligible households while also ensuring health and safety of their occupants. Finally, in addition to these benefits for income-eligible households, the program supports the growing clean energy workforce and economy by contracting local, and often small, businesses to complete the work.

Spotlight on a Local Service Provider

Prairie Five Community Action, a Minnesota Community Action-affiliated agency in western Minnesota, is one of 23 local SPs implementing Minnesota’s weatherization program statewide. A recent Pioneer PBS segment featured the organization's work helping income-eligible households access high-quality weatherization services.

Shaping the Future of the Weatherization Program

COMM’s weatherization program is emblematic of innovation taking place throughout the country in delivering weatherization services. DOE looks forward to continuing its support for this work.

On July 8, 2022, WAP awarded $36.5 million to 21 organizations through the Enhancement and Innovation Program and $5.1 million to five state weatherization agencies through the Sustainable Energy Resources for Consumers Program. Minnesota was among awardees for both programs.

These awards will shape the future of WAP by expanding and improving traditional weatherization services, addressing home repairs and upgrades necessary for electrification, increasing workforce development and retention, and deploying innovative technologies and practices. This investment, along with the $3.5 billion provided to WAP in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will enhance clean energy deployment and increase access to energy efficiency, which will cut energy costs for American families, spur job growth, and help us achieve our clean energy goals.

Learn More

For more information about WAP and its special initiatives, visit the WAP website and sign up for news announcements to keep up to date with the latest information and resources.