Your ARRA funds at Work: the Weatherization Program in Utah Saves Lives, Helps those in Need and Boosts Local Economies
The Weatherization program in Utah has experienced a boost thanks to ARRA funding. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress has weatherized 1073 homes statewide as of February 2010. That is 23.54% of the required completions. Salt Lake CAP accounts for nearly half of the work completed in the program.
Salt Lake CAP has completed weatherizing 416 homes whose occupants are impacted by poverty. Weatherization saves significant amounts of money on a family’s utility bills and helps keep them safe and warm over the winter months. The weatherization program improves the energy efficiency of homes and replaces non-functioning furnaces for people who would be unable to afford to replace badly malfunctioning units. The weatherization program also provides savings in the form of energy fixes to fix leaky windows, doors, and walls.
The jobs created by the weatherization program are good jobs. The Salt Lake Community Action Weatherization program serves a diverse population in need and works to solve the complex issues associated with poverty.
Deputy director Dale Canning says ARRA funds have greatly increased the agency’s ability to help a community in need. “In the last fifteen years only once have we had the resources to weatherize over 400 homes in a year. Because of ARRA funds in the last 8 months we have weatherized 416 homes,” Canning said.
Canning is also pleased that through the hard work of Weatherization program employees Salt Lake CAP has worked miracles in “I expect that by the end of the current year we will have weatherized over 700 homes. Our current ARRA production is at 137% of our anticipated rate.”
When and Why did the Weatherization Program Start?
In 1976, in response to the national energy crisis, the U.S. Department of Energy initiated the Weatherization Assistance Program. The goal of this program is to assist low-income households, particularly the elderly and disabled, to reduce their energy consumption. This lessens the impact of utility costs on limited household budgets and helps stimulate self-sufficiency.
Since 1976 the State of Utah has implemented this program uninterrupted with minimal need for State funding support. Weatherization coordinates efforts with many other public and private programs to improve the lives of low-income Utah residents. The Utah Division of Community Development administers the Weatherization Assistance Program statewide through eight government and non-profit agencies. Benefits are provided in the form of a non-cash grant to eligible households for making energy efficient improvements to their homes. Participating households are averaging nearly 33 percent in savings (or approximately $285 per year) after the completion of the weatherization work on their homes.