Federal Weatherization Grants Help RIers Increase Energy Efficiency & Save a Bundle

Sen. Reed tours weatherized homes in Providence to see how $1.1M in federal
weatherization grants are being put to work &
to help celebrate 40th anniversary of national Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

*PHOTO CAPTION: Senator Reed with Eddy Soto from Eddy & Sons Weatherization and
Ronnie Young of Community Action Partnership of Providence. For more pics of today’s
event, visit: reed.senate.gov*

PROVIDENCE, RI – As the national Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) celebrates
its 40th anniversary this year, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined with Providence
residents, community partners, and energy experts to tout the program’s positive
impacts and help more families in need save on their energy bills.

The Weatherization Assistance Program helps seniors, those with special needs, and
low-income families to weatherize their homes, improve the efficiency of their
heating systems, and reduce energy consumption. Each home that qualifies for
weatherization services under WAP, gets an energy audit to determine the most
cost-efficient course of action to achieve financial and energy savings. Typical
improvements include: upgrading insulation in the attic, walls and floor; sealing
air leaks around doors and windows; and repairing or upgrading cooling and heating
units. In addition to lowering energy bills, improvements can also help reduce fire
and safety hazards in the home.

Senator Reed, along with U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Ranking Member and
Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban
Development, respectively, are the leading Congressional champions of WAP. Thanks
to their efforts, last year Rhode Island received $1,094,465 in WAP funding. This
year, Reed and Collins successfully boosted funding for the program by $5 million,
to a level of $220.6 million for fiscal year 2017 in the Senate-passed
appropriations bill.

WAP, which got its start during the energy crisis of the 1970s, provides relief for
lower-income homeowners and renters at risk of living in what is known as ‘energy
poverty,’ which is typically recognized as households that are forced to spend about
10 percent or more of their income on energy-related expenses. According to the
National Resource Defense Council (NRDC): «low-income households-many of whom live
in older housing with poor ventilation and aging, inefficient appliances and heating
systems-spend, on average, 7.2 percent of their income on utility bills, which
amounts to about $1,700 annually out of $25,000 in median household income. That is
more than triple the 2.3 percent spent by higher-income households for electricity,
heating and cooling.»

Across the country, low-income households pay disproportionately more than the
average household in energy costs and that divide is particularly acute in
Providence. A 2016 report, «Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest
Cities,» found that
low-income residents in Providence (9.5 percent) had the fifth highest energy burden
of major cities, following: Memphis (13.2 percent of income), Birmingham (10.9
percent), Atlanta (10.2 percent), and New Orleans (9.8 percent).

Since 1990, Rhode Island has used WAP funds to successfully weatherize more than
13,250 low-income homes and rental units, according to the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE). The program helps eligible Rhode Island families reduce annual energy bills
by an average of $264, according to DOE. Energy savings average 35% of consumption
for the typical low-income home. For every $1 invested in the Program, WAP returns
$2.51 to the household and society.

«High utility bills present a real challenge for Rhode Islanders living on limited
incomes. This program helps people save money, energy, and the environment all at
once. It is truly a win-win-win. WAP has had tremendous economic, social, health,
and safety benefits here in Rhode Island. It literally helps kids, parents, and
seniors breathe easier and cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions,» said Reed, who
joined with officials from Community Action Partnership of Providence (CAPP) and
contractors from Eddy & Sons Weatherization as they toured a home undergoing
weatherization upgrades on Lowell Avenue in Providence.

In the 2016 Fiscal Year that just ended, CAPP provided weatherization assistance to
225 individuals and families.

«CAPP is proud to administer this program, weatherization makes a huge impact for
our residents in health and cost savings for the long term. Providence has a high
proportion of older housing stock, with additional resources we could address our
growing waitlist of over six thousand homes,» said Melissa Husband, CAPP Executive
Director.

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services oversees the program and distributes
federal funding to area Community Action Agencies (CAA). In turn, the CAAs
administer the assistance to qualified individuals.

To be eligible, applicants must meet certain income standards, with priority given
to the elderly, those with disabilities, and families with children. Eligibility
guidelines may be found
here.

To apply, interested Rhode Islanders may submit an application to a designated
Community Action Agency. Find the CAA nearest you on the Rhode Island Association
of CAAs website at: http://www.ricommunityaction.org