Efficiency Programs for Low Income Areas

Posted by AM Conservation Group on September 5, 2016

To encourage progress toward advancing energy efficiency goals, the effort of promoting such initiatives must be a shared burden for everyone operating in the energy industry.

Those with the means can take steps toward energy efficiency on their own today. Weatherization of homes, offices, and commercial and industrial facilities is a common starting point. These methods, however, are not immediately accessible to everyone — people in low-income residences and housing, for example, have a very difficult time accessing weatherization services and products.

To counter this gap in services, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy founded the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Across the country, numerous municipalities, community action agencies, and utility companies have developed WAP programs.

What are WAP Grants?Illustration depicting a sign with an energy efficiency concept.

The DOE awards WAP grants to state and local governments so they can provide weatherization products and services to their income-eligible constituents, a demographic that struggles to gain access to these goods and services.

Services you can provide to low-income constituents with a WAP grant include professional home energy audits, installation of weatherization and other energy-efficient measures, and identification and addressing of health and safety issues.

After an energy audit, WAP grants can be used for a number of efficiency-minded improvements. Installing or replacing insulation in walls, attics, and crawl spaces can lead to drastic improvements, as can the repair, sealing, and insulation of air ducts and hot water pipes. Also available are upgrades of water heaters, thermostats, major appliances like refrigerators, lighting, and more.

Benefits of WAP Grants

WAP grants and the energy-efficiency improvements they allow for carry a number of benefits.

For the Environment

These are the obvious benefits, and are the primary reason for WAP’s existence.

More weatherized and energy-efficient homes, and more constituents with better efficiency knowledge, increase your entire community’s energy efficiency. By reducing energy waste, and leveraging used energy in efficient ways, we can also reduce pollution.

For Utilities

Effective implementation of a WAP grant by utility companies will go a long way toward improving customer satisfaction, one of the most important goals for any organization. The smart energy use knowledge and weatherization techniques that WAP grants promote will also reduce energy use, leading to less stress and consequent maintenance on your infrastructure.

For the Community

Aside from reduced energy use and pollution, there is a significant benefit for your community at large — jobs.

By stimulating both private and public sector investments, energy efficiency practices help create jobs — roughly 11 for every $1,000,000 in investments. As an example, a 2013 report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimated that Mississippi could generate about 32,000 jobs over a 10-year period by instituting sound energy efficiency policies and programs.

For the People

The most direct impacts of WAP grant-enable energy efficiency improvements are felt by the low-income families that such enhancements were designed to help.

Proper weatherization of a home will help increase the occupants’ comfort levels, an important aspect of quality of life, and make the management of their utility expenses easier. More importantly, weatherization will help to increase in-home health and safety, particularly for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and the handicapped.

Properly weatherized homes, for example, can be more easily kept at comfortable temperatures year-round. Household temperature may seem relatively insignificant, but during the extreme temperature highs in summer and the comparable lows in winter, improved air and heat retention can help to save lives.

WAP grants can also be used to identify and conduct non-energy improvements. If a home energy audit uncovers the presence of asbestos, lead paint, faulty electrical work, or other issues not directly related to energy, WAP funds can help to pay for their remediation or abatement. Health and safety improvements like these speak for themselves.

For the Municipality

Cumulatively, all of these benefits — those for the environment, for the utility companies, and for the community and community members — are benefits for municipalities. A clean, unpolluted village or town, with happy residents and good-paying jobs, is a healthy one that will draw investment and growth.

AM Conservation Group can Help

It is often beneficial to begin education and outreach programs for your constituents prior to instituting WAP grant programs.

Your constituents will be made aware of not only the upcoming availability of WAP funds, but the overall importance of efficiency and steps they can take to help. Fully customizable Weatherization Kits provide your constituents with everything they need to get started. Pair them with educational materials to maximize their impact.

You can turn to AM Conservation Group while the WAP programs are in progress, as well. We carry an expansive array of energy efficiency products, from thermometers and programmable thermostats to occupancy sensors and other light controls, and much more.

We also offer Direct Install Fulfillment to help utility companies and government agencies manage the types of direct install programs that WAP grants allow. From outreach to product selection to reporting, AM Conservation Group’s Direct Install Fulfillment will be there throughout the entirety of your program.

To learn more about our energy efficiency products and services, and how we can help you implement WAP programs and other energy efficiency outreach efforts, contact us today.