Weatherization Program: A primer on the Weatherization Assistance Program

In Alabama and many of the other southern states, January brought with it some of the coldest weather in some 20 odd years. With the cold weather, many of us also got an additional nasty shock when we opened up our electric &/or gas bills. For those that had not kept up with the maintenance on their house, may have felt some cold drafts inside, had their water pipes freeze up, and /or a heater that just could not keep up. For those located a little further north they may have also run into problems with ice dams.

In the next few articles, we are going to look at how one can effectively weatherize one’s own home. Doing this will not only help you during those cold snaps, but during the dog days of summer. This will also help your heating and cooling equipment last longer as it will not have to run as much. In this article though, I would like to address a program that was created to help those with limited incomes like SSI, SSD, or families fighting to make ends meet and how they can get help.

As some of my long-term readers may recall, I took a Weatherization class back in December for the Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The Alabama Department of Economic & Community Affairs (ADECA) mandates this class for anyone that may want to participate in the State’s LI-WAP program. After taking this class, we pretty much decided that this program was not for our company for numerous reasons. Below we are going to take a quick look at the program and answer some frequently asked questions about the program.

The Weatherization Assistance Program (The Fed’s):

Per DOE’s website: This program was started back in 1976 and to date has helped 6.2 million of America’s neediest citizens. It benefits our nation by reducing our energy dependency, improving the environment, and stimulating economic development in low-income communities. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. DOE provides funding and technical guidance to the states, but the states run their own programs and set rules for issues such as eligibility. They also select service providers, which are usually nonprofit agencies that serve families in their communities, and review their performance for quality. (Listing of all State Agencies involved with this program)

The Weatherization Assistance Program (Alabama):

Per ADECA’s website: ADECA contracts with local Community Action Agencies and the Montgomery County Commission to deliver WAP to low-income households in all 67 counties across the state. In order to receive assistance, the applicant’s income must not exceed 200% of the federally established poverty level. (#’s valid till 3.1.2010 /// 1 person = $21,660 / A couple = $29,140 / A family of 3 = $36,620 / A family of 4 = $44,100 /// If you have a larger family add $7,480 per family member)

WAP’s mission is to reduce energy costs for low-income households, particularly for the elderly, people with disabilities, and families with children, by improving the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety. Alabama weatherization assistance typically includes mitigating outside air infiltration into the conditioned space of the home, installing attic, wall and floor insulation, sealing duct work, performing HVAC system tune-ups and repairs, repairing leaky and/or faulty windows and doors, and replacing incandescent light bulbs with highly efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. Health and safety checks are also performed on the home.

Who do I call or contact in Alabama to see if I qualify?

ADECA works directly with 22 different Community Action Agencies that cover all 67 counties in Alabama – the easiest way to see which CAA you should contact is to use the agencies Pre-screening Form.

I don’t live in Alabama, whom should I contact?

Please follow the following link to see which State Agency you should contact for more information: Listing of all State Agencies involved with this program

I live in a mobile home or a trailer; does this qualify as a “home”?

Yes it does. Most of the weatherization class and training I attended is actually directed at working on these types of homes.

I had a water leak and my floor is gone, or my AC unit hasn’t worked in years, will they help on this?

Most CAA’s also have discretionary money to help you out with issues like these. In many cases, they will add this to the bid request to get the issue corrected. If they are not able to help you out, many can point you to a group or another program that may be able to help you.

  • Lesley LEED AP

    That’s interesting that your company decided not to participate in the program. I’m respectfully curious as to what your reasons were. Weatherization is such a popular topic right now. It seems like a great idea.

    • Sean

      I would have to say it is a combination of items.

      Some of the building science and methods used are debatable at best. Do I really want to train my employees that this is good enough here, while on any other job we would do, it’s not even close? What is my companies name worth – a quick buck?

      There are also some liability concerns. Many of us taking the class figured that it would probably be best to setup a separate company just to do this type of work.

      There was also quite a bit of talk on the way some of the CAA’s were handling the projects which makes me believe that at some time there will be some major investigations.

      I would say that these are probably our top three reasons for staying away from the WAP program.

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