Reed, Collins Lead Bipartisan Effort to Help More American Households Save Energy and Money Through Weatherization
To help Americans struggling with rising energy prices, new 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) 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 bipartisan bill would serve more low-income households that are currently unable to receive weatherization services because their homes are in need of significant repairs. The bill will authorize a Weatherization Readiness Fund, providing $65 million a year for five years 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.
For every dollar invested by WAP, $4.50 is generated in combined energy savings and non-energy benefits such as job creation, according to the U.S Department of Energy.
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 lead author of the bill.
“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 will 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.”
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."
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. The U.S Department of Energy estimates that these upgrades help each household save $283 in energy bills annually.
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.