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WAP Beats Deadline to Spend ARRA $

February 1, 2012 -- The Department of Energy has completed weatherizing more than 600,000 low-income homes three months ahead of schedule.

With $5 billion in recovery funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to add to its ongoing Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), DOE focused on quickly reducing energy waste in low-income homes by installing upgrades such as insulation, air-sealing, and more efficient heating and cooling systems. The goal was to weatherize 607,000 homes by March 2012.

DOE announced it had reached that goal in December 2011.

"On average, the program reduces energy consumption for low-income families by up to 35 percent, saving them more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone," DOE said. "Nationwide, the weatherization of 600,000 homes is estimated to save more than $320 million in energy costs in just the first year."

Estimates from an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study in March 2010 projected that energy savings will likely exceed the program's costs.

The extra recovery funding significantly expanded and accelerated DOE weatherization activity. For example:

30,500 Wisconsin homes weatherized; recovery funds covered costs for 21,600
16,000 Washington homes weatherized; recovery funds covered costs for 12,300
6,800 Montana homes weatherized; recovery funds covered costs for 3,300

However, according to the National Association for State Community Service Programs (NASCSP), the WAP enters FY 2012 with its lowest funding level since 1978. The FY 2012 Omnibus Appropriations bill, filed on December 15, 2011, contained a 60 percent cut to the WAP from $174.3 million in FY 2011 to $68 million for 2012.