“To reduce energy costs for low-income families, particularly for the elderly, people with disabilities, and children, by improving the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety.” This is the guiding principle for the Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).
On the surface it seems like a simple enough statement. The basic concept is to provide some of the most necessary services to the most vulnerable households among us. However, those who work in the WAP realize that the task is anything but simple. Every house- be it a single-family, multifamily, or mobile home- comes with its own set of issues and challenges. Factor in different climates, building materials, and fuel sources and you quickly realize that each weatherization job is unique. At the same time, the occupants of those homes face any number of difficulties and challenges of their own. What a beautiful thing it is to be a part of a program that addresses the physical issues of the dwelling while in turn easing the struggles of those living there.
The WAP has for some time now approached energy efficiency with a “whole house” approach. What started as a program of neighbors helping neighbors caulk windows now utilizes cutting edge building science and technology to deliver the highest energy savings. The simple idea behind the “whole house” approach is that a house is a system and everything is connected. So to properly weatherize a dwelling, all of those connections must be identified, aligned, and addressed.
Again, on the surface, it seems like a simple enough concept. However, there is more to this “whole house” approach. As important as it is to deliver energy savings and increased energy efficiency, the “ensuring health and safety” piece of the WAP motto is equally important. Much like a doctor, WAP professionals must live the principle “Do No Harm”. Vulnerable and energy burdened households often have to resort to unsafe heating sources such as electric or non-vented space heaters. These sources can release asthma-triggering combustion fumes or put the home at risk for fire. Similarly, a cracked heat exchanger in an old furnace can place the entire family in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. WAP crews address these concerns every day and play an integral role in protecting vulnerable families by improving the health and safety of their homes.
The professionals in our states and local communities who implement the WAP are keenly aware that part of this “whole house” approach is taking into consideration the people who live in the dwelling. This is where the “whole house” and “Do No Harm” concepts come together. This coming together is what makes the WAP such a wonderful program – the opportunity to provide the most necessary services to the most vulnerable households among us.
As we recognize Weatherization Day 2017 I encourage you to take some time to celebrate the incredible work that the WAP does every day. As you celebrate, remember that the vital connection between “whole house” and “Do No Harm” is representative of the WAP at its best! Thank you for making these concepts a reality! Happy Weatherization Day!
NASCSP Energy Services Director