A new partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will streamline federal home weatherization programs and provide $16 billion in economic recovery funds for state and local home weatherization and energy efficiency efforts. The interagency partnership not only will make it easier for homeowners to weatherize their homes, it also will foster a home energy efficiency industry, potentially creating up to 87,000 jobs.
"This partnership will help put Americans back to work while saving families hundreds of dollars on their energy bills," DOE Secretary Steven Chu said in announcing the effort.
DOE is investing $5 billion in the Weatherization Assistance Program, allowing an average of $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades for low-income families. The State Energy Program will receive grants totaling $3.1 billion to fund rebates for home energy audits or other energy efficiency improvements, to develop renewable energy projects, to promote Energy Star products, to improve the efficiency of state and local government buildings, and for other money-saving energy efficiency initiatives at the state level. HUD's funding includes $4.5 billion to renovate and upgrade public and Native American housing—largely through energy improvements—and $250 million for efficiency retrofits to privately owned, federally assisted housing.To get the program under way and spur job creation, the DOE is releasing $780 million to states this month—the first of several payments states will receive. Additional funding will be released as necessary. There will likely be work available to contractors, remodelers, and builders willing and able to expand their repertoire of services to energy efficiency upgrades and home weatherization.
In addition to funding, the DOE/HUD partnership will develop guidelines and specifications for retrofitting public housing and privately owned, federally subsidized rental units. The agencies also will develop a common baseline for measuring home energy use and the gains from efficiency improvements, as well as develop and disseminate a tool that will give homeowners access to this information.