Home heating is predicted to be more expensive this winter. This can be especially challenging for those with lower incomes.
To help with lowering energy bills, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provides state weatherization agencies with tools and funding to provide low-income families with free-of-charge, energy efficient upgrades to their homes. A more efficient home means that you pay less every month on your energy bills—and while that’s the kind of upgrade anyone can benefit from, this program helps those who need those extra dollars the most.
WAP estimates that, on average, the value of weatherizing your home is 2.2 times greater than the cost of the weatherization process itself. And those improvements can last a very long time—and some, like insulation, will benefit you (and your energy bill!) for the life of the home.
How to Apply for Weatherization Assistance
You must apply for assistance through your state or local weatherization office. You may use our state weatherization agency map tool to find your provider.
When applying for WAP services, one of the primary factors affecting eligibility is income. You will be required to provide proof of income for the prior year, such as pay stubs or social security payments. For information on proof of income, please refer to HHS’ Poverty Income Guidelines and Definition of Income.
After you have finished the application process your local weatherization provider will determine if you are eligible to receive weatherization services. Please remember that people who are most in need are often moved to the top of this list. Priority is given to the elderly, families with one or more members with a disability, families with children, or high-energy users.
What to Expect When Receiving Weatherization Services
Once your home is selected for weatherization services, a local weatherization provider will schedule a date and time to complete an energy audit, which is a computerized assessment of your home’s energy use carried out by a professional energy auditor and includes an analysis of your energy bills, a blower-door (pressurized) test to determine the infiltration of outside air into your house, and an inspection of all energy equipment for potentially health and safety issues.
After the analysis of the energy audit is complete, you will be provided with recommendations of the most cost-effective energy conservation measures for your home. All work is energy related, and does not include new roofing, siding, or similar structural improvements.
If you agree on the work to be done to make your home more energy efficient, an energy auditor crew leader from a local weatherization provider will meet with you and your family to explain how the work crews and/or contractors will conduct the work. Weatherization crews or contractors typically complete their work in a day or two, after which the local provider’s inspector will review the work to ensure everything was completed satisfactorily and all equipment is operating safely.
Other Low-Income Energy Assistance Programs
Other federal programs provide support to low-income families that need assistance with their energy bills.
The Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides short-term assistance to low-income families to help pay utility bills. This program is funded by HHS. Sometimes states use LIHEAP funds for weatherization to reduce a family’s energy bills over the long term.
Federal Energy Management Agency (FEMA) provides a number of services to assist individuals who are victims of a natural disaster. These services include low-interest loans, some cash grants, and links to assistance from other agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service and Farm Service Agency.
For additional assistance, check with state and local emergency management organizations, as well.