Elmsford, NY – With temperatures in the Hudson Valley dropping and heating bills soaring, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Congressman Eliot Engel urged the Administration to fund the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the State Energy Program (SEP). WAP helps families reduce energy bills by making homes more energy efficient. Funds are used to improve the energy performance in homes using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry. In New York, SEP helps fund the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) to support a broad range of programs, including long-term energy planning, efforts to increase efficiency in public buildings and reduce costs to the public, support to energy-efficient manufacturing, energy audits and retrofits, and research in home and commercial energy efficiency improvements.
“With winter here and temperatures plummeting, that means higher energy costs for families and businesses,” said Senator Gillibrand. “During these tough economic times, and in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, many New Yorkers simply cannot afford this added strain on their budgets – especially since New Yorkers already pay more than the national average for energy costs. Weatherization programs help save families hundreds on energy costs while supporting local construction, small businesses, and manufacturing jobs.”
“Weatherizing homes is one of the most important investments families can make to lower heating and cooling costs, particularly in the northeast” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-17). “As temperatures drop and extreme weather becomes more common, it is critical that the federal government does its part to help families in New York and nationwide keep their homes comfortable and save money on energy costs.”
“The Weatherization Assistance Program is critical to New Yorkers, as it saves homeowners money, put people to work and reduces our nation’s energy consumption. Proper weatherization and energy efficiency can be difficult due to up-front costs, but doing so will help reduce energy usage by up to 35 percent, saving the average family more than $400 on heating and cooling bills in the first year alone. This valuable program is important to New York families, and I applaud Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. Lowey for joining me in calling for adequate funding for this program going forward,” said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
With cold winters and high energy prices, these programs are uniquely important in New York. In 2005, State residents expended, on average, $2,409 per household on energy costs, compared to a national average of $1,810. As a result, weatherization investments are particularly helpful in assisting families, with each dollar invested in program activities saving an estimated $3 in energy costs over the life of the installed measures.
Additionally, the dramatic storms that swept across New York over the past two years caused significant housing damage, including to home heating, cooling and insulation systems. This damage is expected to significantly increase the number of New Yorkers who could benefit from weatherization assistance. New York State has indicated Sandy relief and assistance will be a major priority for these funds.
Specifically, Senator Gillibrand urged President Obama to include no less than $210 million for WAP and $50 million for SEP in his FY 2014 budget.
During the last 33 years, WAP has helped more than 7 million families nationally save money by improving the energy efficiency of their homes, freeing up finite resources for other essentials like food and medicine. Weatherization saves households on average up to $400 per year on their heating and cooling bills. Since the energy improvements that make up weatherization services are long lived, the savings add up over time to substantial benefits for weatherization clients and their communities, and the nation as a whole. This program supports local construction, small businesses, and manufacturing jobs.
In New York, WAP is administered by the Department of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR), which distributes funds to local affiliates who manage the program in each county. Assistance is available to both homeowners and renters who pay their own utility costs through local weatherization providers in each of New York’s 62 counties. Households at or below 60 percent of state median income are eligible for the program. A range of efficiency improvements can be conducted through the program, with energy use analyses used to determine the most cost-effective improvements. Energy efficiency measures performed through the program include air sealing (weatherstripping, caulking), wall and ceiling insulation, heating system improvements or replacement, efficiency improvements in lighting, hot water tank and pipe insulation, and refrigerator replacements with highly efficient Energy Star rated units.
In Westchester and Putnam Counties, WAP is administered by the Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP). Since 2009, WestCOP has provided assistance for over 2000 units.
SEP allows states to assist with the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and effectively works with the private and public sectors to produce significant returns. According to a study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, every dollar of SEP federal funds are leveraged by $10.71 of state and private funds, and result in $7.22 in annual energy savings.