Energy Efficiency

Bill Introduced In Congress Aims To Bolster Weatherization Funding

A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress this week seeks to improve public health and lower household energy costs by bolstering the federal Weatherization Assistance Program.

The Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act, introduced by senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Chris Coons (D-DE), aims to help low-income households that are unable to receive weatherization services because their homes are in need of significant repairs by authorizing a Weatherization Readiness Fund.

The Weatherization Readiness Fund would provide $65 million a year for five years to people whose homes need structural repairs to prepare them for weatherization assistance.

The bill also seeks to raise the amount of funding allowed to be spent on each home to keep up with current labor and material costs and would raise the cap on the amount of funding allowed to be spent on renewable energy upgrades in each home.

The Weatherization Assistance Program provides funding for measures such as window replacement, sealing air leaks, ventilation improvements, and other energy-saving improvements.

Since 1976, the Weatherization Assistance Program has helped more than seven million low-income families reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient and, on average has helped each household save $283 annually on energy bills, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). In addition, DOE says that every dollar invested by the Weatherization Assistance Program generates $4.50 in combined energy savings and non-energy benefits such as job creation, and the more efficient houses also reduce greenhouse gas emissions that can cause climate change.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law -- included a total of $3.5 billion for weatherization. And the final Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022 provides $334 million for weatherization, an increase of $19 million over previous funding levels.

In January, the DOE announced an $18 million funding opportunity made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to help enhance the impact of the DOE’s existing residential Weatherization Assistance Program.