Weatherization Day is an effort to focus local, state, and national attention on the Program and the work being performed by dedicated members of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) network. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the program, which came out of the U.S Department of Energy in 1976. The mission of the program is to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings occupied by low-income Americans, thereby reducing their energy costs, while safeguarding their health and safety. Among low-income households, the program prioritizes those with elderly residents, individuals with disabilities and families with children.
Since its inception the program has weatherized over 7 million homes in every town, city, and county in America. Eligibility for the program is based on household income and according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services there may still be over 30 million homes eligible for weatherization services nationwide.
In the 40 years since the beginning of the program, WAP has experienced a huge learning curve. From simple low-cost/no-cost measures such as caulking, plastic on windows and door weather-stripping the program has emerged as a sophisticated diagnostic program utilizing the most recent building science techniques and proven best practice applications, which maximize energy and dollar savings. WAP measures now include blower door directed air-sealing, heating and cooling system safety inspections, efficiency testing, and repair and replacement, duct system diagnostics and repair, advance insulation techniques, inefficient appliance replacement and much more. All of these applications are guided by a sophisticated computerized energy audit procedure which uses data and other analyses to determine the most energy efficient and cost-effective whole house approach. The success of this approach can be measured by the fact that on average weatherized homes reduce their energy burden by 25 percent.
Weatherization crews and staff receive state of the art training from several Weatherization Training Centers around the country and must go through several method driven courses that require testing and certification. WAP professionals are the best trained and most certified workforce in America. The WAP over the last 40 years has pioneered the tools, techniques, diagnostic approaches and measures that have been the guiding force and benchmark for the private sector home performance contracting industry and the national energy efficiency retrofit effort. WAP has developed and implemented proven best practices that are tested daily in real world situations. This experience and expertise has produced a building science laboratory, which has helped master the art of making residential and multi-family buildings safer, more affordable, and more energy efficient.
WAP can also be considered a national rescue squad because of its impact on health. Actual lives are saved and health costs reduced due to the program's carbon monoxide testing, mold and moisture remediation, lead paint identification, and indoor air quality testing. WAP on average also reduces emissions of carbon and other air pollution sources by almost 3 metric tons per year per home and over the life of the measures saves over 50 metric tons of carbon emissions per home. Reducing carbon and air pollution have a direct connection to improving the quality of our air, land, and water and thus a direct improvement to our health.
In Virginia, the program is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). DHCD contracts weatherization services to 19 non-profit agencies around the state. Primary funding for the program is a combination of Department of Energy funds, Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds, and some funding from Virginia utilities. In 2015 almost 2,000 homes were weatherized using a total funding amount of approximately $19 million. Virginia is also home to the Community Housing partners Energy Solutions Training Center, arguably the best weatherization training center in America. There is also in Virginia a very rigid and required professional certification process and curriculum that all weatherization crew must follow and adhere to.
The Weatherization Assistance Program over the last 40 years has survived multiple funding cuts and efforts politically to terminate the program. It has endured significant growing pains and changing technology in order to constantly improve its capacity and delivery of services. It has had to adapt to increased demands and professional requirements of its workforce and it has always had to operate under uncertain year to year funding projections. But WAP just soldiers on and continues to provide thousands of living wage jobs, support of local businesses and economies nationwide, reduced air pollution and carbon emissions, safer and more affordable housing stock and a national network of more energy efficient homes.
These are all reasons to celebrate National Weatherization Day on October 30, 2016. It just may be the most cost-effective and successful federally funded program in America. Weatherization Works!