Picture a neighborhood block somewhere in your town. It might have single-story homes for 10 families — complete with front porches, sidewalks and green lawns. Or instead that block might have a single apartment building that houses 50 families over five floors. What we know is that each of the families — whether they’re living in a detached house or a mid-rise apartment — pays away some of their hard-earned dollars to pay for energy. And for many low-income Americans, these energy bills absorb a significant amount of the family income.
Now imagine that teams of trained experts come down that block and install measures to help those families save energy. Insulation, caulking, weatherstripping, windows, better furnaces or water heaters. So families’ energy bills go down and their comfort goes up. We call this ‘weatherization’ — and it’s happening in more than 82,000 homes as part of the Recovery Summer.
So picture that — what does 82,000 homes look like? That’s a lot of houses. And how do the 82,000 families with lower energy bills and improved comfort feel? I’ll bet given these challenging economic times they’re resting a bit more easily. This could not be achieved without the determined and committed hard work of more than 900 community action agencies and state weatherization agencies nationwide. Twelve states have now weatherized more than 30 percent of the homes they planned to complete under the Recovery Act, marking a major milestone in this effort to make American households more energy efficient. This video expresses my personal gratitude for the hard work that has made our remarkable progress to weatherize America possible.
What’s more is that the folks doing the weatherization work are resting better, too. Over 10,000 Americans had jobs performing retrofit work for low-income families through the Recovery Act in the first quarter of this year — and that’s expected to grow. Some of these folks have been doing weatherization work for decades. But many of these people are new to energy retrofitting — former teachers, mechanics, carpenters or linesmen — joining this fast-growing clean energy sector and getting trained with the help of Recovery Act-sponsored grants rolled out across the nation.
Through the Recovery Act, we are investing more than $11 billion to make homes and businesses more efficient and higher users of clean, renewable energy. This includes $5 billion to weatherize hundreds of thousands of low-income homes across the country. More than 240,000 homes have been weatherized since February 2009.
Find out more about DOE’s efforts to revitalize our economy and revolutionize the ways we use energy here.
Article by Cathy Zoi, Assistant Secretary for Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy, appearing courtesy The White House Blog.
photo: Bread for the World