The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that it has earmarked $120 million to be divided among about 120 organizations working to weatherize buildings for greater energy efficiency. The grant money will be distributed under the banner of its Weatherization Assistance Program, which has already retrofitted thousands of homes across the country.
Like all of the DOE’s funding initiatives, this drive toward more innovative weatherization methods is expected to create thousands of jobs for construction workers, plumbers, electricians, contractors and manufacturers in local communities, while also shaving power use and greenhouse gas emissions.
The departments launched the Weatherization Assistance Program — designed not only to renovate homes, but also to develop new technologies and relevant financial models — last year and is already impacting up to 25,000 homes a month. In June alone, the program helped weatherize upwards of 31,600 homes.
Weatherization is one of the most effective, yet least publicized, ways that average homeowners can save energy and cut down their monthly bills. It’s also incredibly easy for people to understand and accomplish. The typical suburban home can be helped immensely by the simple addition of insulation, reinforcement of windows, caulking, or replacement of major power-sucking appliances — particularly heating and air conditioning systems.
About $90 million of today’s allotment will go to local weatherization professionals across 27 states. Recipients have been asked to look beyond the usual upgrades to integrate new renewable energy technologies and appliances into customers’ homes. The Department of Energy is expecting to see a bump in installations of solar water heaters, rooftop solar systems (including solar roof shingles), urban wind turbines, home energy management systems and more.
The remaining $30 million will go to 16 organizations dedicated to weatherizing homes in low-income areas. These recipients have been charged with taking a closer look at financial efficiencies and developing models that make advanced weatherization techniques affordable. They will also be engaging in workforce training, volunteer programs, and partnerships to lower costs and certify air quality.
The full pool of grantees is diverse, including private companies, nonprofits, academic institutions, municipalities and national organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the YMCA.