Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Building Homes and Strengthening Communities

TDHCA Celebrates Weatherization Day 2002

(AUSTIN-10/30/02) The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs joins Governor Rick Perry in recognizing today as “Weatherization Day 2002” in Texas. The Department is using this event as an opportunity to promote its Weatherization Assistance Program, a service provided to low-income Texans by the Energy Assistance Section of TDHCA’s Community Affairs Division.

Governor Perry issued a proclamation in support of the national designation for “Weatherization Day 2002” by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Throughout the country, state and local agencies administering DOE weatherization funds are celebrating weatherization and publicizing the benefits of an energy efficient home, particularly for low-income households, the elderly, and the very young.

“Extreme weather conditions are common occurrences in the Lone Star State, often increasing the energy costs of households,” Governor Perry noted in his proclamation. “Low-income households are especially vulnerable. According to TDHCA, low-income Texans spend 14 percent of their annual income on heating and cooling costs compared with 3.5 percent for the average household.” The Governor urged all citizens to learn about the many benefits of weatherization. “By assisting all Texans in reducing energy costs and increasing efficiency, we are taking positive steps that benefit our great state.”

The Weatherization Assistance Program provides income eligible households with a variety of services designed to lower their energy consumption and utility bills. Services range from the installation of weatherstripping, caulking and insulation, to the replacement of inefficient heating and cooling equipment, depending upon individual circumstances.

TDHCA provides these services through a network of 36 local contract agencies serving all 254 Texas counties. A complete list of these community based organizations and units of local government is available on the Internet at: http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/ea.htm#consumerWAP ;or call 1-888-606-8889. DOE, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the System Benefit Fund are the funding sources for the program.

Through August, more than 5,700 low-income households have received weatherization assistance this year from the Department through local contract service providers at an average cost of $1,796 per home. An additional 61,700 households also received assistance with utility payments through TDHCA’s Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program.

“The Weatherization Assistance Program reflects the Department’s overall philosophy that one cannot have affordable housing where there is no energy efficiency,” said Edwina Carrington, TDHCA Executive Director. “If a low-income household cannot afford to heat or cool their home, they are not able to live in a safe, healthy manner. Through this program, the Department is providing real and meaningful benefits to thousands of low-income Texans each year.”

In addition to paying a higher percentage of their annual income on energy costs, low-income households often find energy costs affecting their basic subsistence requirements. Nationally, local assistance agencies have had to address the relationship between medical and nutritional needs and energy costs. The elderly and persons with disabilities in particular will often pay for their utility bills while foregoing medication and food.

National studies have also shown that low-income households with young children will pay for utility costs at the expense of their children’s nutrition. This contributes to higher hospital admittance rates during high energy consumption seasons, developmental and learning disabilities in later years and, at worse, infant mortality.

More important, the Texas heat is a very real threat to the health of the elderly, persons with disabilities, and very young children. The Texas Department of Health reports that more individuals die due to heat related stress than exposure to excessive cold. Cooling costs are a special burden on low- and fixed-income households because of the state’s long summer and because it is provided from electricity, an extremely expensive source of energy.

TDHCA encourages all Texans, regardless of their income level, to make their homes as energy efficient as possible. Here are some basic tips to follow when considering weatherizing your home:

  • Install storm windows, or add caulking or sealant to existing windows to reduce the infiltration of cold air in the winter and warm air in the summer
  • Close drapes or blinds and lock windows to ensure a tight seal
  • Weatherstrip the perimeter of exterior doors
  • Install insulation in your attic, walls (where accessible), and floors
  • Set water heater to 120 degrees and add an insulation blanket to the unit (check the manufacturer’s label for important information)
  • Add insulation to water pipes
  • Install low flow shower heads and faucet aerators
  • Use conservation showerheads to eliminate hot water waste
  • Install dampers in chimneys
  • Replace filters in heating and cooling systems on a monthly basis
  • Check the direction of ceiling fans: in the winter, set fans to move air downward (counterclockwise); in the summer, set fans to move air upward (clockwise)
  • Close the damper on fireplaces (when not in use) or add glass doors
  • Remove furniture and carpeting from heater vents to ensure proper circulation
  • Adjust the thermostat to slightly lower temperatures in the winter and slightly higher temperatures in the summer when your family is sleeping or away from the home
  • Replace old appliances with new energy efficient models. Look for the EnergyStar label.
  • Install Compact Florescent Light (CFL) bulbs