This Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) success story from Alaska shows how weatherization services provide health and safety benefits in addition to energy savings.
Life Saving Benefits for a Fairbanks Family
When Pete applied for weatherization services to replace the aging windows and doors in his 1980s home, he had no idea that the services would be transformative and potentially lifesaving for his family.
Pete, who lives with his wife and teenage daughter in Fairbanks, Alaska, informed the weatherization assessment professional that his wife’s asthma had worsened over the last year and noted that it may stem from ongoing issues with their boiler. Within just a minute of assessing the boiler, the professional identified toxic levels of carbon monoxide.
The assessor immediately shut off the boiler and ensured the home received a comprehensive set of upgrades to the boiler, an inoperative ventilation system, broken windows and a door, and damaged insulation in the attic. Thanks to weatherization, what started out as a search for windows and doors turned out to be a life saver.
More Than Just Energy Savings
Pete’s experience illustrates that weatherization services provided through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program can be pivotal for the health and safety of American households.
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.
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.
While energy savings are often emphasized most as a benefit of weatherization, WAP services provide a range of critical non-energy benefits for households. On average, households receive roughly $2.78 in non-energy benefits for every $1 invested through the program, even more than the $1.72 in energy-related benefits generated per dollar invested.
These non-energy benefits represent tremendous value for weatherization recipients — more livable homes, fewer missed days of work due to sick days and doctor visits, and decreased out-of-pocket medical expenses by an average of $514.
Positive Impacts in Alaska and Beyond
Pete and his family are just one example among the thousands of households that have benefitted from comprehensive weatherization services. Collaboration between DOE and multiple state and local stakeholders makes this work possible.
In Alaska, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) receives funding and technical assistance from DOE’s WAP to provide weatherization services through local service providers. For example, Interior Weatherization, Inc. provided the critical weatherization assessment and energy and safety upgrades for Pete and his family.
With funding from DOE’s WAP, all 50 states, the five U.S. territories, Native American tribes, and the District of Columbia contract with nearly 800 local organizations nationwide to deliver weatherization services. The positive impacts of WAP are due entirely to the dedication and diligence of each of these partners.
Funding a Bright Future
AHFC also maximizes and expands the impact of WAP funding by blending it with other funding sources. For Pete and his family, AHFC combined funding from the state, WAP, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to address the conservation, health, and safety measures that improved their home.
In 2019, WAP grantees leveraged $844 million — roughly triple the funding provided by DOE that year — in additional funding from LIHEAP and other sources to deepen WAP’s impact.DOE is investing historic resources to expand and improve the program and ensure the future of WAP is bright. On November 15, 2021, the President signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $3.5 billion to WAP to retrofit thousands of low-income homes to make them healthier and more energy efficient while also lowering utility bills.
This funding has supported multiple funding announcements by WAP.
- On March 30, 2022, DOE announced the release of $3.16 billion in new funding through WAP, which marks a massive and historic infusion of funding into the program.
- On July 8, 2022, DOE’s 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.
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.
DOE looks forward to working with state and local partners to drive impact through WAP and other funding sources, which will help cut energy costs for families, bolster the health and safety of households, and spur job growth and clean energy deployment.