WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will invest nearly $8 billion in state and local weatherization and energy efficiency efforts as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds will be divided between the Weatherization Assistance Program, which will receive nearly $5 billion, and the State Energy Program, which will receive nearly $3 billion. According to DOE, this will help families save hundreds of dollars every year on their energy bills, while creating approximately 87,000 jobs. To jump-start the job creation and weatherization work, DOE is initially releasing $780 million and will release more as the states demonstrate that they are using the funding effectively.

The State Energy Program funding will be used to provide rebates to consumers for home energy audits or other energy-saving improvements; to develop renewable energy and alternative fuel projects; to promote Energy Star products; to upgrade the energy efficiency of state and local government buildings; and other state efforts to help families save money on their energy bills.

The weatherization funding will improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families by adding more insulation, sealing leaks, or modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment, at a cost of up to $6,500 per home. The energy efficiency upgrades will be available for families making up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, this translates to about $44,000 per year in the lower 48 states, $55,140 per year in Alaska, and $50,720 per year in Hawaii.

Publication date: 03/23/2009