Reed, Collins & Colleagues Renew Bipartisan Effort to Help More American Households Save Energy & Money Through Weatherization
To help Americans struggling with rising energy prices, bipartisan WAP Improvements Act offers enhanced federal aid for home energy upgrades
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to make more homes energy efficient and help residents save on their utility bills, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today re-introduced the Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act. This bipartisan bill seeks to improve public health and lower household energy costs by bolstering the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which covers home weatherization, window replacement, sealing air leaks, ventilation improvements, and other key energy-saving measures.
The bill will authorize a Weatherization Readiness Fund to help those in need repair structural issues and prepare homes for weatherization assistance, increasing the number of homes the program is able to serve. It 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 will raise the cap on the amount of funding allowed to be spent on renewable energy upgrades in each home. These provisions are essential updates to a program that has helped so many families over the past few decades.
Since 1976, the Weatherization Assistance Program has helped more than 7.4 million low-income families reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The U.S Department of Energy estimates that these upgrades help each household save $372 in energy bills annually.
In addition to saving families money, energy efficient homes also help cut down on our carbon footprint, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
“This bipartisan, cost-effective bill is about saving families and taxpayers money, cutting air pollution, and generating good-paying clean-energy jobs. Our proposal would save families in need real money on their energy bills while also benefitting the U.S. economy, environment, and public health. It would help reduce demand on energy grids nationwide which helps keep utility rates lower. By expanding the program to include critical home repairs, we can alleviate economic hardship, address healthy housing disparities, and improve energy efficiency for those households who need it most,” said Senator Reed.
“The Weatherization Assistance Program is a proven, cost-effective way to permanently reduce energy usage and cut low-income Americans’ energy bills for the long-term,” said Senator Collins. “Energy efficiency projects also protect the environment, increase energy independence, and create jobs. Our commonsense bill would help build on the significant investments we have secured for the Weatherization Assistance Program so that more Americans will be able to make improvements that will allow them to affordably heat their homes.”
“Thousands of Delawareans have benefited from the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides support for low-income families to make their homes more energy efficient and in turn, lowers their energy costs,” said Senator Coons. “This legislation will help ensure that this assistance gets to the people who need it most while creating clean energy jobs. It’s good for our wallets, good for our environment, and good for our energy security.”
“I’m proud to again support this bipartisan, cost-effective legislation that would help generate jobs, save families money and help protect the environment,” said Senator Shaheen. “By building on the investments we’ve already made through the Weatherization Assistance Program, we can help more families implement much-needed home repairs that support weatherization projects. These projects are imperative to help cut our country’s carbon footprint while also bolstering the economy.”
David Terry, the President of the National Association of State Energy Officials, stated: “We applaud Senators Reed, Collins, Coons and Shaheen for introducing this important bipartisan piece of legislation, which will help low-income and elderly Americans. The sponsoring senators are continuing their long-time support of energy efficiency programs that reduce costs for the public.”
David Bradley, CEO of the National Community Action Foundation which represents local weatherizers said: “The Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act will allow the program to use today's tools and technology to tackle 21st century challenges. When it becomes law: homes will be more resilient and efficient in the face of extreme weather; families and communities will be healthier and safer; and energy will be more affordable. The unwavering leadership of Senators Jack Reed, Susan Collins, Chris Coons and Jeanne Shaheen has kept the Weatherization Assistance Program robust and relevant through changing times.”
Cheryl Williams, Executive Director of the National Association for State Community Services Programs said: “NASCSP is thrilled to support the Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act, introduced by Senators Reed, Collins, Coons, and Shaheen, long time champions of weatherization. This legislation paves the way toward decreasing energy burdens and improving the health and safety of low-income households, while ensuring a stronger workforce.”
Weatherization is key to lowering the energy burden among low-income households, which spend an average of nearly 14 percent of their annual income on energy costs, compared to 3 percent for higher income households. This burden often compels families with limited financial resources to cut back on essentials like medicine, groceries, and child care.
An independent study of the Weatherization Assistance Program by Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that children in weatherized households miss less school, improving educational outcomes. Adults miss less work, increasing both their own incomes and their contributions to the economy. Families also reported experiencing fewer flu and cold symptoms and emergency room visits, decreasing costly medical expenses.
The Weatherization Assistance Program also helps boost our economy. The program supports over 8,500 jobs for energy experts and contractors, while increasing our national economic output by $1.2 billion.
Senators Reed and Collins spearheaded the bipartisan effort to include $3.5 billion in WAP funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Click here to read the full bill text.