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Weatherization Assistance for Low-Income Households

Cold winter weather brings up every one's energy bill, and effective weatherization can ensure efficient heating and lower energy bills. But those who are on a tight budget and hit the hardest by winter's higher energy costs often can't afford to put the extra money into making their home more energy-efficient. If you or a loved one survives on limited income and lives in a home with poor insulation, leaky windows, or outdated heating, you should know about a government program that may help.

The Department of Energy gives funding and guidanace to every state's Weatherization Assistance Program to help low-income households permanently decrease their energy costs. The average savings in the Program is 32% of the heating bill, at a savings of about $358 a year at the current energy prices. The actual savings may vary, depending on the current state of your home's energy-effeciency and the severity or mildness of your winters and summers.

The program is designed to update the home's energy efficiency in the most cost-effective manner possible, and spends an average of about $2800 on upgrades for the home. These upgrades are free to the recipient, and serve needy families well by dramatically lowering one of their basic living expenses. The upgrades will be purely for energy savings, so no work will be done that does not affect the energy costs of the home.

Who qualifies?
The DOE says that as many as 20 to 30 million families in the U.S. qualify. If you currently receive Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependant Children, then you automatically qualify for Weatherization Assistance. The qualification guidelines for other cases vary slightly by state, but states generally give preference to:
  • People over the age of 60
  • Households in which a family member is disabled
  • Families with children
  • Households with a high energy burden
Income is a major consideration for eligibility. States set their own guidelines for qualification and generally require that your income falls below either 125% or 150% of the income poverty level for your family size, but some states determine eligibility by whether your income is less than 60% of the median income in your state. Alaska and Hawaii allow slightly higher income levels due to the increased cost of living in those states. For your state's Weatherization Assistance Program contact information, go to http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/weatherization/state_contacts.cfm.


The Process From Start to Finish
  • Call the appropriate office to determine eligibility requirements in your state.
  • Go to the agency office to apply. Have proof of income for the year prior to the application.
  • If you qualify, you'll be put on a waiting list. If you rent, you'll need permission from the property owner. Families may be moved to the top of the waiting list based on need.
  • Professionals come to analyze your energy bill, inspect and test your home for safety and energy-efficiency, and come up with measures to improve your home's energy efficiency.
  • Professional workers come in to upgrade your home and normally have all work completed within a day or two.
  • The recipient signs off that the work is completed.
The recipient isn't the only one who benefits.
The Weatherization Assistance Program helps communities on a much broader scale than just the families whose homes receive the energy upgrades.
  • The low-income weatherization program provides jobs for 8,000 workers.
  • The DOE continues research and developments in improving homes' energy-efficiency - while setting industry standards that are in use by for-profit companies that provide home energy conservation services.
  • By reducing the energy bill for needy families, those families have more money available to spend on other things, spurring economic and job growth in low-income communities.
  • The Program works to help protect the environment by reducing the wasteful use of energy.
Sources:
The Department of Energy
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/weatherization/
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Friday, 22 November 2019

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