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Weatherization Assistance Program Benefits & History

Introduction
Many low income American homeowners spend far too much of their income on heating and cooling. They could reduce these costs if they had the money to weatherize their homes by adding insulation, sealing cracks and installing better windows. The federal government's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) makes this valuable service available to people who can't otherwise afford it.

History of WAP
Following a major spike in oil prices during the mid-1970s, the U.S. Department of Energy established this program. The WAP eventually expanded its services and began to provide insulation and new windows, according to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. It gained $5 billion in Recovery Act funding after the 2008 recession. The program grants funds to states and Native American tribes.

Benefits of WAP
Weatherization contractors or volunteers typically begin by performing home energy audits. This helps them determine the best ways to cut a home's fuel and electricity bills. After a homeowner or landlord approves the upgrades, workers use caulk, insulation and other materials to seal the home. These steps often boost property values and stop pests from entering buildings.

The weatherization program also has a number of indirect benefits. By cutting energy consumption, it reduces pollution and fuel prices. It also supplies employment for local contractors. Over 12,000 people work to provide this service, according to the Center for American Progress. The WAP creates building supply manufacturing jobs as well. Additionally, part of the goal of the program is also to reduce the US's reliance on foreign oil by decreasing energy costs. The US Department of Energy estimates that over 6.2 million homes have been weatherized and that it returns $2.69 for every program dollar spent in either energy on non-energy.

How to Apply for WAP
The application process and eligibility guidelines vary depending on your state or territory. To get started, find and contact a nearby weatherization agency. The state government can help you get in touch with them. Ask for a WAP application form. You'll need to provide some basic information about your family and household income to begin the application process.