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Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) - Everything You Need to Know

Winter weather can be hard on any house and household. WAP provides financial assistance to keep your home livable and safe during this time of year.

Summer may have been a scorcher, but Fall is upon us, and Winter will be here sooner than you might think. Falling temperatures are usually a boon for anyone who's had to pump the AC during the hot summer months. But once Winter hits, it's going to be time to start turning up the heat. Therein lies the problem for many people. Once the heat gets turned on, leaks become glaringly apparent. Your father and/or mother may have yelled at you as a kid to stop “heating the outdoors” when you left the door open. But if you have open spaces in your walls, windows or doors, that's exactly what you're doing.

Many homeowners and renters tend to favor ignoring the issue. This is the wrong action to take. Most homes lose a lot of heat through leaky windows and doors -- upwards of 30% of all homes, in fact.[1] Inefficient windows and doors are primary reason many homeowners and renters have higher energy bills than they should during the winter and summer months, and new windows alone could save the average family hundreds of dollars a year on heating and cooling costs.[2] But, like many homeowners and renters, you're probably worried about the total cost of fixing up your home.

Many families may not realize that the federal government has a program specifically for low-income families who need weatherization home repairs. The Weatherization Assistance Program exists to help low-income families make the minor and sometimes major repairs to the home they either own or rent. Enrolling in this program is free, although there are some hoops you'll have to jump through. Nevertheless, the payoff can be big: free home repairs and modernization that will net you big cost savings on your energy bills year-round.

Types of Repairs You May Need
As stated earlier, most homeowners who do need weatherization fixes typically need two areas improved: windows and doors. This is because windows and doors are the two areas where leaks are more likely to come through as well.

Older homes may have single pane windows and need caulking around the frame. Single-pane windows do very little to keep the heat or cold air in, and to keep the hot air or cold air outside from getting in. On the other hand, double, or even triple pane windows will add the extra layers you need to help keep the outside air temperature from seeping inside.[3] These are typically more expensive, but well worth it in the long run. Depending on your need, the Weatherization Assistance Program will replace or repair your current windows. However, the program will not purchase and install top-of-the-line triple-pane windows. The window repairs focus on patching holes around the frame first and foremost and replacing windows to more energy efficient ones only in the situations where the window absolutely needs to be replaced.

Doors may be off-center and leaking around the frame. This is especially common in older homes. As doors get opened and closed hundreds, if not thousands of times over a home's life, the door, and the frame will eventually get misaligned.[4] That misalignment allows areas to open up around the door in the frame. Cold and hot air from outside will seep right through these openings. Most of us have probably experienced a leaky, drafty door or two in our lives. During the winter especially, this can be troublesome at best, and at worst extremely expensive. WAP will help realign old doors and in some cases will replace those doors if they are no longer viable.

Other Weatherization Services Offered Through WAP
The Weatherization Assistance Program, which is administered by a state-level organization utilizing federal funding, also offers home improvement assistance beyond just fixing windows and doors. The goal of the program is to improve energy efficiency and safety of the home. Other services provided by this program include:

Sealing holes and cracks in walls and the roof.

Upgrading or adding insulation.

Weather stripping

Repairing water heaters

Repairing HVAC systems

The overall goal of the WAP is to ensure that homeowners and renters have homes that are both livable and energy efficient.

Weatherization Assistance Program: Details and How to Apply
The Weatherization Assistance Program is a Department of Energy program but is managed on the state level. Each state has its own program through which those interested should apply. There are some limitations to the program, as well as criteria for acceptance.

Those receiving Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children are already eligible. If your family receives services through either of these two programs, you will not be rejected after submitting an application.

Certain people and families will be given preference over others. Those over the age of 60, families with children and families with a disabled family member will all be given priority in the application review process.

There are limitations on how much money the program will spend. It's important to remember that the program is designed to increase your home's energy efficiency, not to give you a new, remodeled home. As such, the program will focus on making the most inexpensive repairs with the best cost benefits. The average amount spent per family is $6,500. Some participants will have less or more spend on their home.

You must have a household income below a certain amount. This amount is determined by how many people are in your household.

Household Size* Maximum Income Level (Per Year)
1 $23,760
2 $32,040
3 $40,320
4 $48,600
5 $56,880
6 $65,160
7 $73,460
8 $81,780
* Those who have more than 8 members in their household should add $8,320 for each additional person.

Weatherization can not only save you and your family hundreds of dollars each year, it can also help raise your home value, tax-free. Whether you are a renter or a homeowner, this low-income program is a real winner for those who need to find useful ways to save money. To apply, locate your state's program office through the Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center.