The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was created in 1976 to assist low-income families who lacked resources to invest in energy efficiency. WAP is operated in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Native American tribes, and U.S. Territories. Funds are used to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry. The energy conservation resulting from the efforts of state and local agencies helps our country reduce its dependence on foreign oil and decrease the cost of energy for families in need while improving the health and safety of their homes. This program results in significant yearly energy savings. The average household saves $413 or more per year on energy after the home is weatherized.
The general process involves filling out an application form, either from home or at a local agency. Once this form has been submitted, the applicant will be contacted and notified as to eligibility. There may be a waiting list before benefits can begin. The benefit is available both to homeowners and renters whether living in multi-family housing, a single home or a mobile home. Preference is given to persons 60 years and older with disabilities and families with children. Those receiving Supplemental Security Income or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), are automatically eligible. All means tested individuals — Based on 125% – 150% federal poverty — are also automatically eligible.
The Weatherization Assistance Program works to:
- Reduce energy costs and alleviate high energy burden for low-income families
- Decrease the nation’s energy consumption and avoid related emissions
- Improve housing stock and neighborhood conditions
- Provide an economic boost in low-income communities
- Educate consumers in energy efficiency practices
After performing an energy audit, a professionally-trained Weatherization inspector will determine the best energy-efficiency measures for the home based on heating and cooling needs. This individual will meet with household members to explain how the trained Weatherization crews will conduct the work. Following Weatherization, an inspector will return to make certain that everything is working properly and nothing was missed.
Some typical Weatherization work that may be performed includes:
- Insulating the attic, walls, floors, water heater, and exposed pipes.
- Tuning-up, repairing, and if necessary, replacing the furnace or heating unit and the air conditioner if applicable.
- Installing ventilation fans including electric, attic, ceiling, or whole-house fans to increase air circulation.
- Eliminating air infiltration by weatherstripping and caulking around doors and windows and replacing broken glass panes.
- Focusing on energy-related health and safety issues while performing all work.
- Providing instructions on the care of the Weatherization materials and simple, low-cost/no-cost tips on how to save even more energy and money after the Weatherization materials have been installed.
For complete details about the Weatherization Program, contact a local area agency on aging or the U.S. Department of Energy at (800) DIAL-DOE or (800) 948-5969.