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What We Do
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of the homes while ensuring the resident’s health and safety. It is the nation’s single largest residential whole-house energy efficiency program. The Weatherization Assistance Program has created an industry, producing new jobs and technologies, all while helping the most vulnerable families in America.
The Program’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.”
WAP provides core program funding to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Native American Tribes, and the five U.S. territories – American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands through formula grants. Once DOE awards the grants, states contract with more than 700 local agencies nationwide. Community action agencies, other non-profits, and local governments use in-house employees and private contractors to deliver services to the low-income families. In 2015, utilities and states supplemented DOE funding by providing an additional $883 million, or $4.62 for every dollar.
Why It Matters
Weatherization not only helps households, it also helps revitalize communities by spurring economic growth and reducing environmental impact. Weatherization returns $2.78 in non-energy benefits for every $1.00 invested in the Program (National Evaluation). Non-energy benefits represent tremendous benefits for families whose homes receive Weatherization services. After Weatherization, families have homes that are more livable, resulting in fewer missed days of work (i.e. sick days, doctor visits), and decreased out of- pocket medical expenses by an average of $514. The total health and household-related benefits for each unit is $14,148 (National Evaluation).
Innovative Technology and Practices
Weatherization is critical to introducing and deploying technology and facilitating greater industry adoption. The home performance industry is based on the skills perfected by weatherization. The weatherization network and the private sector established the Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals including Standard Work Specifications for Home Energy Upgrades (SWS), and Home Energy Professional certifications along with accreditation of energy-efficiency training programs. Weatherization agencies also create a market for American manufacturing, using products and equipment from local sources, benefitting the business community in the regions they serve.
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. The Weatherization Assistance Program takes the "whole house weatherization” approach that analyzes all of the building systems—the building envelope, heating and cooling systems, electrical system, and electric baseload appliances—through the completion of an energy audit.
Another distinguishing feature of WAP is the attention to the overall health and safety of the clients being served and the weatherization providers. Many dwellings receiving attention are old and in need of repair. Weatherization service providers use check the exterior of the building, known as the building envelope, and major energy systems to ensure there are no safety concerns for the occupants before installing any energy efficiency measures. In recent years, WAP providers in many areas combine resources from other programs to address other problems with the building.
Since the inception of the Program in 1976, more than 7 million households have received weatherization services.
Learn about the history of the Weatherization Assistance Program.
Download this fact sheet to learn more.