Last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) celebrated a watershed moment – the 1 millionth home was weatherized since work began in April 2009 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
It’s a key achievement of the "stimulus bill," which gave DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) a one-time BIG boost with an infusion of $5 billion – five times what it had to work with in 2008.
It pays for home efficiency improvements for low-income people and has been demonstrated to save families of $400 a year, says the DOE. The upgrades usually cut energy consumption by 35%.
The 1 million-homes milestone is impressive, considering that the effort just reached the 600,000-mark at the end last year. That means almost as many houses and multi-family dwellings were weatherized in the past eight months as in the first two and a half years of the program.
"The weatherization program is particularly important to our friends, neighbors, and family members — many of them seniors — who are struggling economically. Studies show that lower income households spend significantly more of their total income on their energy bills than other households — nearly 14 percent compared to just over three percent for other households," says David Danielson, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE.
Photo courtesy of Dennis Schroeder, NREL.
Besides the positive impact on low-income households and the energy saved, the program has created at least 12,000 direct green jobs each quarter of its existence – especially between 2009-2012, says Danielson. The program works through a network of over 1,000 local agencies and more than 4,000 private contractors.
Indeed, of the 200 different programs funded through the Recovery Act, the WAP initiative is ranked second for job creation.
In addition, more than 90% of the materials used for these projects – such as insulation and high-efficiency windows – is made in the US, supporting thousands of domestic green manufacturing jobs, he says.
Since 1976, more than 7 million homes have been upgraded under WAP. In the 2012 budget, Republicans were able to slash funding for the program – cutting it to $68 million- leaving states and other organizations to pick up the slack.
For more on WAP: