After a slow start to the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, it was announced that on September 27, the 1 millionth home was weatherized.
This comes just nine months after passing the goal of weatherizing 600,000 homes in a three-year period. This marks a major milestone for the program, which has been a huge success since receiving $5 billion from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
ThinkProgress has outlined the many ways in which this act has benefited the United States. President Obama crafted the Recovery Act with the goal of creating American jobs, boosting the economy, supporting small businesses, and saving everyday people money on energy bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is obviously a great achievement for him, but the real benefits are had by those who have had their homes revamped to be more energy efficient.
The act states that any household at or below 200% of the poverty line may qualify to apply for retrofit services, meaning about 38 million households are eligible. So far, priority has been given to families with children and homeowners who are disabled or elderly. These services can help a family reduce energy use by up to 35%, saving more than $400 on heating and cooling bills in the first year alone. For a household struggling to make ends meet, that’s a big chunk of money that could be better spent on groceries, healthcare, or schooling. In 2010, the program saved low-income families $2.1 billion.
As far as economic benefits, the program has involved over 1,000 local agencies and 4,000 private contractors while employing more than 12,000 workers every quarter to perform these services around the country. Not only did it create much-needed jobs in the construction industry, but it also gave American manufacturing industries and small businesses a boost. Nearly 90% of materials used were made in the USA.
And for the environment? 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from buildings and homes, so it’s putting a big dent in the climate problem as well.
It’s strange to me that you don’t hear much about this on the news, particularly during an election year, but it’s good to see that the numbers speak for themselves and projects like this are well on their way to creating a better America. It will be great to see the day when everyone in the United States (and the world) has an energy-efficient home.
Image CC licensed by Pain Chaud