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The Impact of Weatherization

July 26, 2010 - 4:09pm

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As I mentioned last week, it’s brutally hot outside right now. Temperature records are being shattered all across the country – and while we’re always looking for ways to keep cool, weatherization is one process that guards a home against extreme temperatures on both ends of the thermometer. Whether it’s installing cooling systems in areas of the country that can’t catch a break from the heat, or caulking and insulating cracks in states where harsh winters seem almost endless, weatherizing your home can save more than $400 in the first year on heating and cooling costs. While anyone could benefit from saving a few dollars on their utility bill, these savings could make a real difference for low-income families struggling to make ends meet.

So when you invest $5 billion into a program to help lower the energy bills of nearly 600,000 low-income families across the country, it’s hard not to see impact. And when it comes to what we’ve actually done with the Weatherization Assistance Program under the Recovery Act, it’s really all about numbers.

Right now, the program is humming – having achieved a rate of 25,000 homes weatherized a month. And as Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi pointed out on the White House blog, we’re going to weatherize 82,000 homes this summer versus 3,000 last summer – roughly 27 times as many homes this summer as last.  With the energy burden for low-income homes at approximately 14%, weatherization translates into direct relief to American families who are hardest hit by high utility bills. And in terms of jobs, preliminary reports from grantees show that the Recovery Act put nearly 17,000 people to work in just the second quarter of the year.

Examples of this success are everywhere. Take Rachel McCarty, at age 22, she is balancing a full-time job, taking college classes, and being a single mom. Last year, McCarty was approved for the Weatherization Assistance Program from Community Action of South Eastern West and the benefits were immediate.

Or Barry Moir in Massachusetts – he's seen the ebb and flow of the construction business and eventually lost his job. With a background in rehabilitating homes, Moir found an opportunity as a building performance specialist with weatherization service provider ACTION, INC., in Gloucester, Mass.

Even former construction workers need specialized training for weatherization services. All across the United States, centers and colleges are providing the training needed for these specialized services. As the director of the Montana Weatherization Training Center, Mike Vogel knows that the field of weatherization is changing. That's why after 20 years of training workers, the center now offers a program that is not limited to its location in Bozeman, or even to the state of Montana itself.

With tens of thousands of projects underway across the country, summer 2010 is poised to be the most active Recovery Act season yet – creating jobs for American workers and economic growth for businesses, large and small. Helping families across the country, the Weatherization Assistance Program will continue to be a cornerstone of this Recovery Summer. 

Stories credited to Energy Empowers. See more stories about weatherization. Find more data on the Weatherization Assistance Program under the Recovery Act.

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