August 25, 2010
Gordon Anderson (512) 475-4743
Energy Secretary applauds Texas’ Weatherization Assistance Program
More than 13,700 low income Texas households assisted to date
(AUSTIN) — U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu this week singled out Texas for its significant contribution to the nation’s success in administering federal weatherization stimulus funds, citing the state for dramatically accelerating the pace at which it is weatherizing the homes of low income residents. In Texas, the funds are being administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) through a network of local service providers.
Secretary Chu noted that Texas weatherized nearly 6,500 homes from April to June 2010, tripling its pace of production. As of August 16, TDHCA had expended $67.5 million in funds and weatherized a total of 13,733 homes, a figure which represents enormous progress since the state received $327 million for this program late last year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Only 47 homes had been weatherized in Texas as of December 31, 2009, as the state awaited clear federal guidelines regarding the program.
The funds help finance the installation of caulking, weather-stripping, wall and attic insulation, duct sealant, energy efficient appliances, and a host of other measures designed to increase a home’s efficiency and reduce energy consumption for low income households. TDHCA’s goal is to weatherize more than 33,900 housing units by March 2012, when any funds leftover must be returned to the federal Treasury.
“The weatherization program is successfully delivering energy and cost savings for American families while helping to rebuild our economy,” said Secretary Chu in a prepared statement. “These investments in energy efficiency under the Recovery Act are putting thousands of people to work in Texas and across the country as part of the clean energy future.”
In addition to creating a healthier, more affordable living environment for low income Texans, the weatherization program is putting carpenters, electricians, and mechanical contractors to work installing weatherization materials, upgrading appliances, and improving heating and cooling systems. The stimulus weatherization program has created 626 jobs across the state through the most recent quarterly reporting period.
TDHCA Executive Director Michael Gerber used the occasion to encourage Texans to learn more about the program and its many benefits.
“While the Department appreciates the recognition, the important point is that homes are being weatherized and low income households are enjoying a safer and more affordable home,” he stated. “Given this extraordinary level of funding, there will never be a better time for Texans to take advantage of this program and have their homes weatherized. I strongly encourage anyone who thinks they may qualify for assistance to contact either the Department or their local service provider and apply for help. The benefits are too many to pass up.”
Gerber explained this unprecedented undertaking involved more than 1,132 employees from the Department’s network of 44 local agencies and their contractors attending 78 training academy courses to ensure all employees at every step of the process were familiar with the often complex federal program rules and requirements. Additionally, each home is inspected on four separate occasions before TDHCA staff and the homeowner agree the work is satisfactory and complete.
“The measures taken must provide at least one dollar of energy savings for every dollar invested in a home through weatherization, so this is one federal program with clearly defined objectives and – more important – clear and measurable results,” Gerber said. “We are not only lowering utility bills for our neighbors most at risk, we are also reducing their need for other forms of assistance from the state to help pay their utility bills in the future.”
An energy efficient home is particularly important to low income Texans. Income eligible households spend an estimated 12.2 percent of their income on home energy costs, compared an average of 3.7 percent. Households assisted through WAP typically save over $400 on utility costs each year, savings that can be enjoyed for as long as 15 to 20 years.
For more information about TDHCA’s Weatherization Assistance Program, please visit the section’s Web site at www.tdhca.state.tx.us/community-affairs/wap/. To contact the nearest local service provider, use a land-based phone to call (888) 606-8889; callers will automatically be routed to the WAP provider serving their county. Cell phones will not make this automatic connection.
About the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs administers a number of state and federal programs through for-profit, nonprofit, and local government partnerships to strengthen communities through affordable housing development, homeownership opportunities, weatherization, and community-based services for Texans in need.
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