The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was created on August 14th, 1976, when President Gerald Ford signed the Energy Conservation and Production Act into law. The legislation established a weatherization program in order to “increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reduce their total residential energy expenditures, and improve their health and safety…” The new program targeted the elderly, people with disabilities, children, and those with a high energy burden to address issues like drafty windows and poor air sealing.
Forty-five years later, the WAP has evolved into nationwide energy efficiency program administered by building science professionals that has served more than eight million low-income people in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, five U.S. Territories, and three Native American Tribes. The WAP continues to provide cost-effective energy efficiency savings to low-income Americans, while now also improving health and safety, supporting a robust national workforce, and utilizing cutting edge technology.
This year will also mark the 45th Weatherization Day celebrating the WAP. From the beginning of October for Energy Efficiency month through Weatherization Day on October 30th, State and local agencies will be highlighting program successes to promote weatherization awareness and investment. Everyone in the WAP network is encouraged to hold virtual events for the month, to request proclamations from elected officials, and to share messages and educational materials on social media. To assist these efforts, NASCSP will be holding a Weatherization Day Toolkit Rollout Webinar at 12:30 PM ET on September 9 to share resources and guidance. Register for the event to prepare for Weatherization Day here.
From its roots in the 1973 oil crisis to expansion during the 2008 Housing Crisis to its current role in addressing indoor air quality concerns in the COVID-19 pandemic, the WAP has always changed and improved with the times. Now that WAP has finished its 45th year, we have the opportunity to celebrate nearly half a century of success in meeting our program’s mission.
The WAP serves as a model for what public assistance programs can and should be. Everyone in the WAP network, from federal partners at the Department of Energy, to leaders at WAP State and Territory grantees, to local agency administrators and crews, was necessary in touching the lives of so many residents. As we face and overcome the current crisis, this network of people will continue to achieve, excel, and innovate what weatherization means.