Regan Templeton of KUT News and Reporting Texas researched and reported this article.
Weatherization is the practice of protecting a building and its interiors from weather elements and modifying a building to reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency. Weatherization involves caulking, filling holes, adding insulation, replacing inefficient cooling and heating systems, and other activities that would increase energy efficiency.
Texas leads the nation in energy consumption. The state accounts for more than one-tenth of the nation’s energy use. Buildings account for 40 percent of total energy consumption and 70 percent of electrical power use. The average Texan spends 3.7 percent of their household income on home energy costs.
There are businesses throughout Texas that specialize in weatherizing private residencies and business buildings.
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) helps low-income Texans reduce their electric bills by remodeling their homes. The U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Health and Human Services Low Income Homes Energy Assistance Program fund WAP. The program only covers approved remodeling activity that directly affects an electric bill.
WAP has been around since the 1970s, but received little funding for much of its history. The program’s annual budget was $13 million, but in 2009, as part of Obama’s stimulus package, the program was infused with $327 million.
The stimulus funds were not popular with Texas Republicans, including Rick Perry. The government was initially criticized for being too slow to release the funds, but eventually the funds were distributed and it is estimated that WAP has created over a thousand jobs across the state.
The program has been popular with those who qualify for it. 3,700 households receive assistance from WAP annually, but 14,000 households are on the waiting list. WAP estimates that weatherized households will save an average of $437 a year.