During a year that has contained so much unpredictability, two things are certain: October 30th is still Weatherization Day, and Weatherization program managers, directors, state and local agency staff, contractors and retrofitting crews all deserve gratitude and congratulations for adapting to recent difficult conditions. To the many people listed above, as well as to anyone who lives in a weatherized home or supports energy efficiency, NASCSP wishes you a happy Weatherization Day!
Through the 44-year history of the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), Weatherization Day has served as a celebration of the work of thousands of people and as a reminder of the program’s important goal. The WAP reduces energy costs and improves home energy efficiency, health, and safety for low-income people, particularly children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The contributions of so many people make the WAP and Weatherization Day possible, and NASCSP would like to offer thanks to every one of them.
Staff in the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy oversee the WAP which is administered in dozens of US states, territories, and districts. These staff help administer funds to grantees who weatherize homes in climates as different as Puerto Rico and Alaska, and they had to provide guidance and collaboration to help states adapt to changes from the COVID-19 pandemic.
56 state, territory, and district offices across the country manage the WAP for their area. Their staff communicate with and administer funds to anywhere from one to many dozen local agencies. They also work with neighboring state or territory offices to develop new strategies for improving weatherization in their region or climate while also reopening safely.
Over 600 local agencies across the country are responsible for directly administering the WAP to low-income households. Those agencies work with private contractors to install appliances and improve the energy efficiency of homes. These jobs cannot be outsourced and provide important workforce and economic development in communities throughout the nation. The local agencies are the direct link to our customers, answering questions and confirming eligibility, and this year they had to create new methods for applying virtually and connecting with clients online.
Weatherization staff and contractors across the country learn strategies for retrofitting every kind of single and multi-family home, as well as the most advanced technologies and methods used in the building performance industry. This year they also had to adapt to social distancing and using personal protective equipment when doing on-site work.
Low-income households face higher energy burdens than the average family and are more likely to live in inefficient or unsafe housing. They take time already stretched thin from work, childcare, or education to apply and confirm eligibility to get their home weatherized. Parents with young children, low-income people with disabilities, and working seniors all deserve, like anyone else, to live in a home that is safe and efficient. It is the duty and privilege of everyone working in the WAP network to make that a reality.
From the smallest local agency all the way up to the US Department of Energy, thousands of people have parts to play in the continuing success of the Weatherization Assistance Program, and celebrating them and their work is one of the most important parts of any good Weatherization Day. The admirable and essential work of safely adapting to the cascading changes of the COVID-19 pandemic is only one example of the innovation of this network.
Using new materials, installing renewable energy systems, incorporating healthy homes measures and focusing on the “whole home” approach are all examples of innovations by the WAP network. The more than four-decade history of the WAP has always been characterized by changing and improving methods, changing both the home weatherization procedures as well as how state and local agencies communicate and collaborate. The more things change the more they stay the same, and though this year has presented many new and difficult challenges the WAP network has responded as collectively and resiliently as ever.
As we recognize Weatherization Day 2020, please take some time to celebrate the incredible work that the WAP does every day in every state and territory across the country. Take today’s celebration as an opportunity to remember the important goal of the WAP and also to look forward to the bright future of the program. Happy Weatherization Day!
NASCSP is excited to support the WAP network in their efforts to improve and innovate in 2021. Please share your Weatherization Day activities and reach out to us with ideas and suggestions!
The NASCSP WAP Team – Amy, Andrea, and Ian