Talking Points, Talking Points Grid, and Fact Sheet
If you ever find yourself stuck for the right words to describe the Weatherization Assistance Program and its components, these talking points may be helpful. Use this text as appropriate in presentations, media interviews, meetings, community discussions, and other public settings. Modify this information with specific data and examples from your state or local program.
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 their homes, while ensuring their health and safety. $5 billion has been invested in the Program during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) period, as well as $180 million Weatherization funds in annual appropriations. Based on current energy prices, occupants of weatherized homes experience in the range of $400 in annual savings on their energy bills.
Low-income households spend nearly 14.4% of their total annual income on energy. Other households spend only 3.3% of their annual income, on average, on energy. Low-income families often cut back on other necessities to pay their energy bills. Though over 6.4 million households have received Weatherization services since the inception of the program in 1976, 38.6 million households are currently eligible for services.
Weatherization was created in response to the 1973 Arab oil embargo to assist low-income families who lacked the resources to respond to volatile energy markets by investing in energy efficiency. In this early phase, volunteers and job trainees installed low-cost conservation measures, such as plastic window insulation, to reduce heating and cooling bills. Weatherization has evolved into a sophisticated program, which addresses whole-house energy efficiency and promotes a whole-community approach. Weatherization is the nation's largest residential energy efficiency program.
The DOE Project Management Center awards grants to state-level agencies, which then contract with local agencies to deliver Weatherization services to eligible residents. Weatherization programs operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, among Native American tribes, and soon to be the Territories of the U.S. State and local agencies leverage core DOE funding with other federal, state, utility, and private resources to weatherize more low-income homes and to deliver more services while in the homes. Federal investment in the WAP supports nearly 25,000 direct and indirect jobs within related industries.
Weatherization crews use computerized energy audits and advanced diagnostic equipment, such as the blower door, manometer, or infrared camera, to determine the most cost-effective measures appropriate for each home. Typical measures include installing insulation in walls, floors, and attics; reducing air infiltration and pressure imbalances; sealing and repairing ducts; and tuning and repairing heating and cooling units.
Crews use DOE funds to install only those energy-efficiency measures that meet a savings-to-investment ratio of 1:1 and above. DOE funds can be used to address energy-related health and safety problems, or to perform incidental repairs. This approach ensures the program's cost-effectiveness.
Weatherization reduces home energy consumption and lowers energy bills for low-income families. This equates to a 35% reduction in primary heating fuel use. This alleviates the heavy energy burden on low-income households and helps them become more self-sufficient. The weatherization measures installed provide long-term relief for low-income families and protect against future fluctuations in energy prices and supplies. In 2010, weatherized homes nationally will save $2.1 billion for low-income families.
Weatherization is a cost-effective investment of taxpayer dollars. For every $1 invested in the Program, Weatherization returns $2.51 to the household and society. This includes:
$1.80 returned in reduced energy bills
$0.71 is returned to ratepayers, households, and communities through increased local employment, reduced uncollectible utility bills, improved housing quality, and better health and safety though the reduction of heat-related illness and death and risk of death from home fires due to utility disconnection.
Weatherization reduces the nation's dependence on foreign oil imports and plays an important role in the nation's energy security. Weatherization reduces national energy demand by the equivalent of 24.1 million barrels of oil each year. The WAP reduces residential and power plant emissions of carbon dioxide by 2.65 metric tons/year per home and, over the life of the measures, saves 53 metric tons of CO2 emissions per house.
Sources: ORNL/TM-2010/66, EIA February 2010 Short Term Energy Outlook