The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) oversees a program entitled the Weatherization Assistance Program whose primary purpose is to reduce the energy costs for low-income households by increasing the overall energy efficiency in their homes.
The program has created 8,500 jobs and provides assistance to roughly 35,000 homes every year paid for by DOE funds. By performing various home improvement upgrades, qualified low-income households can save an average of $283 or more each year.
The weatherization program began in 1976 and has helped over seven million families.
Applying for the Weatherization Assistance Program
Even though the DOE oversees the program, it does not actually provide the services or process applications. Those processes are handled by each individual state. Therefore, the first step to seeing if you qualify for assistance is to contact your state weatherization agency.
The primary factor to being accepted into the program is income. Using DOE guidelines, each state sets its own income requirements and other various criteria. One particular DOE guideline states that families are automatically eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program if they receive Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
States also give preference to the following criteria:
- Individuals over the age of 60
- Families that have one or more members with a disability
- Families with children (in most states)
Yearly, as many as 20 to 30 million U.S. families are eligible for the program. Your first step is to contact your state weatherization agency to determine if your household is eligible.
The following income figures represent the maximum income level per year.
Household size of 1: $23,760
Household size of 2: $32,040
Household size of 3: $40,320
Household size of 4: $48,600
Household size of 5: $56,880
Household size of 6: $65,160
Household size of 7: $73,460
Household size of 8: $81,780
If your household size is greater than 8, then simply add an extra $8,320 per additional family member. But by the time you read this article, the numbers may have changed. Therefore, please consult your state weatherization agency for the latest income requirements and eligibility criteria.
How Does Applying for Weatherization Assistance Work?
Applying for weatherization assistance is a simple three-step process:
- Find your local weatherization agency. As mentioned above, you must contact the weatherization agency in your state rather than the DOE.
- Fill out the application. Experience has taught us that filling out government forms can be a painful ordeal. But applying for weatherization is not difficult like most government assistance applications. You will answer a few questions about your household and must supply proof of income for the previous year. The application should take about 20 minutes to complete.
- The state weatherization agency will determine if you are eligible to receive its services. If you are approved, you will most likely be put on a waiting list. Those who need assistance the most will be advanced to the top of the list. And if you rent instead of own, you must contact your landlord for permission before work can began on your house.
In our next article, we will discuss what happens after you are approved for weatherization services.