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Home > Feature Articles > Weatherization of Homes and Commercial Buildings

Stimulus Funding for Weatherization / Jobs

Green job training and green jobs for energy efficiency and stretching family budgets with Stimulus funding

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A $5-billion boost contained in the 2009 stimulus bill would supplement the three-decade-old Weatherization Assistance Program's efforts to help caulk and seal hundreds of thousands of homes.

Putting those $5 billion toward weatherization would be an investment with multiple benefits -- it would provide both short-term job benefits and long-term energy dividends.

To qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program, household income cannot be more than 50% above the poverty level, according to the Energy Department.

Obama's goal is to weatherize 1 million homes a year.

The average household spends about 5% of its income on energy costs. But low-income households spend a disproportionate amount of their annual incomes -- about 16% -- on energy costs, said the Energy Department, which oversees the weatherization program.

The DOE said the program could reduce a household's annual gas heating consumption by about 32%, or $350.

The Alliance to Save Energy serves about 150,000 homes a year and they estimate that the stimulus money could result in weatherizing as many as 400,000 additional homes this year and 700,000 in 2010.

But according to Energy Department statistics, more than 33.8 million households are eligible for weatherization services. Maybe we need to find additional solutions -- additional cost effective ways for DIYers to weatherize their own homes with a little training and cost effective supplies that could stretch those dollars to help more families and reduce energy consumption on more homes.

"It's been extremely underfunded for a number of years," said Jo-Ann Choate, manager of energy and housing services in Maine, which receives about $3 million in federal aid for weatherization.

Maine's program weatherized more than 1,500 homes in 2006. The program spends about $5,000 on each home to install insulation, caulk holes and seal leaky foundations. With at least 200,000 homes qualifying for assistance, Choate said, homeowners often wait for years.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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