To apply for weatherization assistance you need to contact your state weatherization agency. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) does not provide weatherization services or services of any kind to individuals. DOE also does not process applications—this process is handled by each state.
How to Determine if You Are Eligible for Weatherization Assistance
One of the primary factors affecting eligibility is income, and each state sets its income requirements within DOE guidelines. Services are provided by the states, and each state has slightly different criteria.
Under DOE guidelines, you are automatically eligible to receive weatherization assistance if you receive Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. In other cases, states give preference to:
- People over 60 years of age
- Families with one or more members with a disability
- Families with children (in most states).
Nationally, as many as 20–30 million U.S. families are eligible for weatherization services. DOE urges you to contact your state weatherization agency to determine if you are eligible for the many benefits of weatherization services. Read more about weatherization services.
How Does the Weatherization Application Process Work?
You will go through the following three-step process to apply for weatherization.
Find your local weatherization agency.
All weatherization services are provided by local weatherization agencies, including the application process. Usually you have to contact your state to find your local weatherization agency because the states—not DOE—keep up-to-date lists of local weatherization agencies. Most weatherization agencies are nonprofit organizations that employ energy professionals, and some are branches of local governments.
You will have to fill out an application form to apply for weatherization. It is not a difficult form, and usually takes about 20 minutes to complete. You must have proof of income for the year prior to application. (For the elderly and people on fixed incomes, this is usually easy to do). You will likely answer a small number of questions about your household, such as the number of people living in the home.
Your eligibility is determined.
After receiving your application, the weatherization agency will determine if you are eligible to receive weatherization services. If approved, your weatherization agency will most likely put you on a waiting list. Please remember that people who are most in need are often moved to the top of this list. Finally, if you rent, you must get permission from your landlord before workers can begin work on the house.
What Happens After I Am Approved for Weatherization Services?
The first step in the process is for your local weatherization agency to carry out an energy audit. This agency is a nonprofit weatherization organization, local governmental agency, or sometimes a contractor trained in home energy services. The energy audit is a computerized assessment of your home's energy use carried out by professional energy auditors. It includes an analysis of your energy bills, a blower-door (pressurized) test of the infiltration of outside air into your house, and an inspection of all energy equipment for health and safety. Finally, the auditor will provide you with a recommended list of the most cost-effective energy conservation measures for your home.
Once the audit is complete, the auditor or inspector from the local weatherization agency will meet with you and your family to explain how the work crews will conduct the work. Depending on your needs, the inspector will recommend more work in some homes than in others. All work is energy-related, and does not include new roofing, siding, or similar structural improvements. The average expenditure is $6,500 per home. Weatherization workers typically complete their work in a day or two, and then you sign off on final inspection.
Throughout the weatherization process, the health and safety of your family remain a priority. Following weatherization, an inspector will return to make certain that nothing was missed and all equipment is operating safely.
Finding Help with Energy Bills
In addition to weatherization, the following federal programs provide support for low-income families that need help with their energy bills.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides short-term assistance to low-income families to help pay utility bills. This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. States sometimes use LIHEAP funds for weatherization to reduce a family's energy bills over the long term.
Assistance to Individuals Involved in a Natural Disaster
The Federal Energy Management Agency provides a number of services to assist individuals who are victims of a natural disaster. These services include low-interest loans, some cash grants, and links to assistance from other agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and Farm Service Agency.