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Jan 26, 2022

DOE Invests $18 Million in Weatherization

The U.S. Department of Energy is offering up to $25 million per year through 2025 to help state, local, and tribal governments enhance the impact of its Weatherization Assistance Program. The funding aims to make homes more energy efficient, prepare homes for electrification, increase opportunities for local, clean energy jobs, and target communities with high energy burdens. The program will prioritize projects that make homes electrification-ready, expand eligibility for multifamily, single family, and manufactured homes, and expand the weatherization workforce.

Overhead view of a neighborhood with many homes

In December, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced an $18 million funding opportunity to help state, local, and tribal governments enhance the impact of DOE’s existing residential Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and help lower energy costs for consumers. Since 1976, the WAP has served seven million households, which enjoy an average of $283 in annual energy savings. Projects supported by this funding will expand the types of residential buildings eligible for energy efficiency retrofits, prepare more homes for electrification, and increase opportunities for local, clean energy jobs. It will also provide targeted benefits to communities disproportionally impacted by high energy burden, supporting the Biden Administration’s commitment to an equitable clean energy transition. 

Two-thirds of low-income households have high energy burdens, meaning they spend more than 6% of their income on utility bills. The numbers are even more stark in communities of color – Black households spend 43% more of their income on energy costs, Hispanic households spend 20% more, and Native American households spend 45% more. 

DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program, Enhancement and Innovation Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will provide $18.6 million this year and up to $25 million each subsequent year through 2025. This program has been a leader in the home performance industry, setting the standard for deep energy retrofits while also ensuring the health and safety of workers and low-income households.  

This funding will help shape the future of the program by improving traditional weatherization services, addressing home repairs and upgrades necessary for electrification, and deploying innovative technologies and practices. Each award will provide a maximum of $2 million over a three-year performance period. Selected projects will focus on:  

  • Making homes weatherization and electrification-ready – Projects must assist in reducing barriers to equitable delivery of WAP services, by performing necessary updates and panel replacements to incentivize fuel switching, and to enable the safe installation of clean energy technologies such as heat pumps and solar PVs. Applicants must describe measures that will make homes electrification-ready and how proposed electrification measures will support the goal of reducing energy burden for low-income households.  
  • Increasing WAP-eligibility for multifamily, single family, and manufactured homes – The projects may develop new methods and partnerships to shorten the timeframe for moving buildings and homeowners through the retrofit process, for bringing previously unserved homes off deferral/waitlists and into the weatherization pipeline by addressing high-cost repairs and health and safety hazards, and protocols for identifying and preparing homes to become all-electric or electrification-ready. 
  • Expanding America’s weatherization workforce – In support of the Biden Administration’s priority to increase workforce diversity, applicants may propose workforce development initiatives and activities including outreach and recruitment, job readiness programs, innovative approaches to mentoring, counseling, and coaching, stipends and wages for trainees. Project initiatives may also include developing formal partnerships with workforce development organizations, labor organizations and unions, trade schools, technical colleges, as well as local agencies and community-based organizations dedicated to reducing barriers to employment of underrepresented populations. 

WAP will receive $3.5 billion in additional funding from the newly enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to increase the energy efficiency, health, and safety of low-income households and reduce their energy costs by hundreds of dollars every year. 

For more information about this effort, visit the WAP website.

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