The emphasis on weatherization in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is a win-win-win for the U.S. economy in three areas: new jobs, energy relief to low-income households and decreased uncollectible accounts for utilities. The ARRA, commonly known as the stimulus package, includes $5 billion for weatherization, an increase from the previous level of only $227 million.
The task of weatherization starts with performing a home energy audit, then following up with one or more energy efficiency measures such as: duct sealing, insulation, window replacement, and even water heater replacement (like the tankless natural gas hot water heater photo in this article) and furnace replacement in some cases. It has been estimated that the weatherization funds in the stimulus package will create nearly 100,000 jobs initially as new energy auditors and contractors are needed to identify sources of energy loss and implement weatherization techniques to mitigate them. The development of these jobs will play a part in stimulating the economy.
Reducing the cost of energy for low income families is important. The average U.S. energy cost per home is roughly $2,000 per year. Weatherization can potentially reduce household energy consumption by at least 25%, putting roughly $500 annually back into the pockets of low-income families who need economic relief the most.
Utilities and every day rate payers also benefit from weatherization. In many cases, low-income families are simply unable to pay for their energy usage which impacts us all. For example, last year alone $5 billion in utility bills went unpaid, the expense of which ultimately is covered in the rates of paying customers.
So you see, things like weatherization can really pay off – both for low-income families and for those who are in more fortunate circumstances and for the economy at large.
Feel free to leave any of your weatherization tips or stories in the comments and be sure to visit our ARRA section on aga.org