The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety.
Weatherization has operated for 40 years and is the nation's largest single-resident, whole-house energy efficiency program. It's primary purpose, established by law, is "to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reduce their total residential energy expenditures, and improve their health and safety, especially low-income persons who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, the disabled, and children.”
Weatherization differs in many ways from what is commonly referred to as "weatherizing your home." The latter involves low-cost improvements like adding weatherstripping to doors and windows to save energy. These simple measures made up the services provided by Weatherization in the early years of the program and are likely responsible for the program's name.
Today, weatherization consists of cost-effective, "whole house" energy efficiency measures for existing residential and multifamily housing with low-income residents that encompass the building envelope, heating, and cooling systems, electrical systems, and electric baseload appliances.
DOE partners with state- and local-level agencies to implement weatherization, receives funding through congressional appropriations, and uses an allocation formula to calculate the weatherization award formula grants for all 50 states, U.S. territories, and Indian tribes, then these organizations then contract with local agencies to implement weatherization. Over 700 local organizations deliver weatherization services to eligible residents in every country in the nation.
Since the inception of WAP in 1976, more than 7 million households have received weatherization services.
Weatherization serves low-income families free of charge and limits the amount of money that can be spent on any single residence as determined by federal rules—average expenditure on a home is $6,500. As a result, only the most cost-effective measures are included in the upgrade of a particular home, which has become the trademark of weatherization and distinguishes it from the larger home retrofit industry.
Another distinguishing feature of weatherization is the attention to the overall health and safety of the clients being served and the weatherization providers. Many buildings receiving attention are old and in need of repair. Weatherization service providers check the building envelope and major energy systems to ensure there are no safety concerns for the occupants before any energy efficiency measures are installed.
Increasingly, weatherization service providers look at the house as a system under the concept of "whole-house weatherization." In recent years, weatherization providers in many states have begun to combine resources from other programs to address other needs of their clients.
Weatherization today comprises a comprehensive series of energy efficiency measures that are based on sophisticated analyses of individual homes. Because of this rigorous approach and analyses backing it up, WAP has become a leader in advancing home energy science and helping spawn a new industry by providing home energy efficiency services to the wider public.