Shaheen Joins Bipartisan Effort to Help More American Households Save Energy and Money Through WeatherizationMarch 13, 2022
**To help Americans struggling with rising energy prices, new bipartisan WAP Improvements Act offers enhanced federal aid for home energy upgrades**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) in introducing the Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act. This bipartisan bill seeks to improve public health and lower household energy costs by bolstering the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which covers home weatherization, window replacement, sealing air leaks, ventilation improvements, and other key energy-saving measures.
The bipartisan bill would serve more low-income households that are currently unable to receive weatherization services because their homes are in need of significant repairs. The bill would authorize a Weatherization Readiness Fund, providing $65 million a year for five years to help those in need repair structural issues and prepare homes for weatherization assistance, increasing the number of homes the program is able to serve. It also seeks to raise the amount of funding allowed to be spent on each home to keep up with current labor and material costs, and would raise the cap on the amount of funding allowed to be spent on renewable energy upgrades in each home. These provisions are essential updates to a program that has helped so many families over the past few decades.
“The Weatherization Assistance Program is an effective tool in helping families avoid financial hardship caused by increased energy costs, which is why I’ve made investing in this program a top priority through my work on the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is a win-win for New Hampshire families, reducing energy usage and creating jobs at the same time,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m glad to help drive this bipartisan, commonsense bill forward to expand access to WAP and improve energy efficiency efforts for households who need it.”
For every dollar invested by WAP, $4.50 is generated in combined energy savings and non-energy benefits such as job creation, according to the U.S Department of Energy. In addition to saving families money, energy efficient homes also help cut down on our carbon footprint, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
Since 1976, the Weatherization Assistance Program has helped more than seven million low-income families reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The U.S Department of Energy estimates that these upgrades help each household save $283 in energy bills annually.
Weatherization is key to lowering the energy burden among low-income households, which spend an average of nearly 14 percent of their annual income on energy costs, compared to 3 percent for higher income households. This burden often compels families with limited financial resources to cut back on essentials like medicine, groceries, and child care.
As a lead negotiator of the bipartisan infrastructure plan, Shaheen helped bolster funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program. In December, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, urging DOE to prioritize the release of funds allocated through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for the WAP and State Energy Program. That law included a total of $3.5 billion for weatherization. Shaheen has long-championed the WAP program to lower energy costs for low-income families in New Hampshire, as well as the State Energy Program, which assists states with the development of energy efficiency renewable projects. The final Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022 provides $334 million for weatherization, which is an increase of $19 million over previous funding levels. In addition, Shaheen has historically saved and boosted funding for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which former President Trump’s budget proposals repeatedly sought to eliminate. In the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law last year, Shaheen successfully included key provisions of her energy efficiency bill – the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) – with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). She also included the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act, the Promoting American Energy Jobs Act and the Heat Efficiency through Applied Technology (HEAT) Act.
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