Modernizing Weatherization and Home Retrofit Policies

David Smedick, RMI, and Camille Kadoch, RAP

Weatherizing is a common practice for households, whether a single-family residence or multifamily unit. It usually involves low-cost improvements such as adding weatherstripping to doors and windows to save energy and making minor repairs.

The term “weatherization,” however, usually refers to federal, state or utility programs that analyze a building’s systems — such as the envelope, heating and cooling, electrical systems and electric baseload appliances — and assess the overall health and safety of building occupants. 1 Weatherization programs seek to address deficiencies in homes to increase energy efficiency and improve the health, safety and well-being of the people who live there.

Several federal programs are in place to help address energy cost burden and the efficiency of the nation’s housing stock. Two programs, in particular, are among the most visible and critical at this intersection of energy and housing: the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). LIHEAP focuses on helping low-income households pay high energy bills and is provided to eligible households each year. WAP, by contrast, provides eligible low-income families with the “opportunity to permanently reduce onerous energy bills through cost-effective, whole-house energy efficiency upgrades.”2 WAP is a one-off, nonrecurring capital investment.

Both programs work through federal block grants to states, the District of Columbia, territories and American Indian tribal organizations. The two programs are disproportionately funded: LIHEAP receives nearly $3 billion in funding annually, and WAP receives an average of $400 million annually.3 Of note, states may use up to 15% of their LIHEAP funding on weatherization practices without federal approval and up to 25% of the funding on weatherization with an approved federal waiver.

Despite these large sums of federal dollars aimed at addressing energy and housing burdens with LIHEAP and WAP, the effective reach of these programs is insufficient. Eighty-four percent of income-eligible households do not receive LIHEAP assistance.4 And although WAP has weatherized 7 million households, nearly 40 million households remain income-eligible for energy efficiency assistance.5 The need far exceeds the available money and assistance.

Recognizing the need, some states add funding to the state implementation of LIHEAP and WAP. Nonfederal funding sources such as state budgets or legislation, utility ratepayer funding mechanisms6 and philanthropic leaders may be much more flexible in terms of implementation and are critical supplements and enhancements to LIHEAP and WAP funds. Consequently, 51% of all funding to address high energy burdens is from utility ratepayer-funded bill and energy efficiency assistance.7

Yet even combining WAP, LIHEAP, utility and state funding, and periodic infusions of additional federal dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act does not keep pace with need. As Figure 1 illustrates, the number of homes weatherized each year is only about 0.2% of the 38.6 million low-income households in the United States.8

And while the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will boost the WAP program by providing an additional $3.5 billion — projected to weatherize more than 700,000 low-income homes — the comparative investment is lagging. For example, the IIJA allocated more than six times that amount — $21.5 billion — for energy demonstrations and research hubs. Under the Inflation Reduction Act, states will have access to over $50 billion in federal funding to invest in energy projects for buildings with the potential to transform the building retrofit industry.9 How states leverage, stack and use these weatherization and energy security funds could have a monumental impact on housing infrastructure.

Figure 1. Number of low-income homes weatherized, by funding source

Note: Because Petroleum Violation Escrow funds represent a small share, it may be necessary to zoom in to see those values.

Source: Drehobl, A. (2020). Weatherization Cuts Bills and Creates Jobs But Serves Only a Tiny Share of Low-Income Homes. Data source: National Association for State Community Services Programs, WAP Annual Funding Surveys

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), recognizing the need to supplement federal funding, released guidance on managing multiple funding streams within the weatherization assistance program.10 In the notice, the department says it is “increasing focus on braiding resources to weatherize a unit and is committed to increasing flexibility in WAP to enable deeper retrofits, increase savings, and deliver greater value for the taxpayer dollar across the country.”11 Further, the DOE will improve federal interagency coordination and facilitate expanded funding opportunities in order to “effectively identify and use all available funds to weatherize and increase the energy efficiency measures installed, reduce deferral rates, and improve equitable access to program services for the families it serves.”12

The Energy Department notes that currently a mix of federal, state, utility and private funds support weatherization efforts, including: DOE WAP formula funds, DOE WAP competitive funds, LIHEAP funds, Community Development Block Grant program, utility investments from systems benefit charges or efficiency programs, state funds from special set-asides, other rehabilitation funds, private funds from landlord contributions or foundations, and other private sources.13

Maximizing flexibility when using LIHEAP funds for weatherization

Department of Energy WAP funds require that each home weatherized demonstrate a savings-to-investment ratio of 1.0 or greater; local agencies use energy modeling software to calculate the cost of every potential measure and the estimated bill savings achieved for the client. Changes in the price of materials, appliances, supplies and utility rates affect these calculations. The DOE encourages states to use leveraging funds to amplify the work performed on each home, and the biggest source of unrestricted funds is LIHEAP. However, not all states remove the savings-to-investment restriction when they transfer LIHEAP funds to weatherization. States can enable more work to occur in homes if they insert language into their WAP state plans that LIHEAP transfer funds are not subject to the savings-to-investment restriction. In this way, states could also target LIHEAP transfer funds to specific measures if they choose; for example, states could designate the use of LIHEAP transfer funds for new cooling systems, appliance electrification or rooftop solar.14

Unfortunately, many homes that need weatherization the most are denied because of structural issues, mold and moisture or water.15 Studies find a wide range in deferral rates from WAP programs, ranging from 5% to 20%16 but extending up to 63% in some places.17 One study found that the overall average cost to address health and safety hazards in a single housing unit was $2,172.18 Consequently, homes with these issues were deferred from the WAP program and denied benefits until deficiencies are corrected.19 Figure 2 illustrates the extent of deferrals recently in one state.20

Figure 2. Weatherization in Virginia, 2018-19

Source: Counts, C. (2020). Utilizing Virginia RGGI Revenue to Support Existing Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

Federal efforts are trying to remedy this deficit. Congress authorized $15 million in preweatherization repairs in 2022, and other federal legislation has been introduced. 21 Until such efforts are permanently and sufficiently funded at the federal level,22 however, state programs are still needed to fill the gap. State actions to help address substantial preweatherization health and safety issues have included:

  • Bundling together different funding sources including repair funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For example, the Housing Department’s 2021 Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demonstration grant for states allowed more seamless stacking of lead remediation and weatherization dollars to allow for a larger investment in a qualifying home.23
  • The relatively recent Weatherization Plus Health program from the U.S. Department of Energy recognized the connection between health and housing. The program sought to decrease preventable medical bills, rising energy costs and loss of wages due to illness by addressing housing problems.24 Successful programs in Washington state led to legislation such as Option 2 (see next section) that coordinate programs to achieve holistic retrofit results.
  • Indiana addressed preweatherization measures such as mold remediation, moisture control, electrical issues, grading, roof repair, gutters, sump pumps, pest control and structural issues with mortgage settlement funds. The program fully weatherized 198 homes in 2016 and reported 25% improvement in asthma and allergy symptoms and 20% improvement in anxiety and depression symptoms.25
  • Delaware used Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funds to retrofit 104 WAP-deferred homes in 2017 and intended to continue the program in 2018.26 In 2020, Virginia passed a bill to join RGGI and allocate 50% of RGGI proceeds to low-income energy efficiency programs.27 In the first year of Virginia’s participation in RGGI, the state spent much of these low-income energy efficiency funds on the Weatherization Deferral Repair Program to repair homes deferred from WAP.28

The “one-stop shop” concept

Although many states may have access to multiple funds for preweatherization and weatherization, multiple programs usually mean multiple applications, which can be confusing and onerous for applicants. To overcome this administrative burden, RMI and others have proposed the “one-stop shop” idea.

“A ‘one-stop shop’ retrofit program for deep energy retrofits is akin to walking into a car dealership and picking your make and model, features and aesthetic specifications, and financing and maintenance plan all at once.”29

If we apply this model to whole-home retrofits, it provides residents and building owners the opportunity to avoid excessive, complicated consultations but still be connected with expert contractors to understand the full suite of retrofit opportunities available to them and receive support from multiple funding sources.30

Two examples in Ohio and Pennsylvania showcase the “one-stop shop” application concept in practice (see text box). Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy combines funds to provide holistic home retrofits. The organization has also taken steps to make sure the program process is simple to use from a consumer perspective. It uses a single application approach, which allows applicants to apply to all the programs they need. The program provides deeper weatherization and retrofit measures, such as efficient lighting and refrigeration, high efficiency heat pump HVAC systems and a focus on multifamily properties.

The synergies resulting from combining funds and programs lead to higher energy savings, including:

  • A 30% average reduction in heating costs.
  • A 10% to 12% reduction in electricity costs.31

Likewise, Philadelphia’s Built to Last program has successfully layered local, state, utility and federal funding to restore homes (see Figure 3).32

Figure 3. Funding sources for home restoration in Philadelphia

Source: Based on Philadelphia Energy Authority. (2020). Built to Last

Why State Legislation Is Needed

While existing efforts at the federal and state level provide a start, current census data illustrates that the federal and state programs are still not providing enough assistance. In 2019, 34 million people were in poverty, and experts expect many more were thrust into economic precarity in 2020 due to COVID.33 Additionally, federal and state programs still leave important gaps in funding, such as for homes needing holistic retrofits. State and local policy can provide valuable direction and coordination to state agencies to layer existing local, state, utility and federal funding sources. Additionally, specific program funding that enables private and philanthropic funding can bolster public and ratepayer funds.

Implementation using green banksgreen bank A financial institution that can leverage public funding to attract private capital for clean energy projects (including energy efficiency, renewable energy and other distributed energy resources) and other “green” investments.

The combination of public, private and philanthropic funds is a hallmark of green banks, which facilitate investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure.34 Many of these institutions focus significantly on delivering retrofits to homes and buildings. Recent legislation in Maryland created a green-bank-like institution — the Maryland Clean Energy Center — charged with explicit responsibilities to administer a new fund for implementing weatherization measures for low- to moderate-income households.35 Properly directed, green banks are able to stack, braid and leverage funds together to maximize impact. They could also provide states with valuable lessons on how to innovate and maximize impact of local weatherization and holistic retrofit programs.

Legislative Options

The following legislative examples were selected to demonstrate opportunities for state legislatures to enhance weatherization programs to deliver increased benefits for families, communities and the planet. Through more robust interagency coordination, an increased focus on preweatherization and electrification within weatherization programs and braiding of funds, these examples present a starting point for legislatures to consider next steps for their own weatherization programs. These include:

The following examples are not exhaustive; states across the country are frequently proposing and enacting new and innovative policies to deliver effective weatherization and efficiency retrofit programs that leverage federal dollars and state and private sources of funding. With the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act, which invests over $50 billion into building efficiency and decarbonization initiatives, it is critical that state policymakers quickly and thoroughly evaluate the opportunities on the horizon to leverage new federal funds and programs to complement and supplement state programs. All these policies could be implemented in a single state. Funding provisions that support the provisions in this section can be found in Funding and Finance in this toolkit.

This option is based on California A.B. 1232, which was signed into law in October 2019.36 The bill required the Department of Community Services and Development to coordinate with the California Energy Commission and the state Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity to identify best practices from model programs and funding mechanisms, and to provide a recommended action plan. Options in brackets provide more explanation as to the types of mechanisms or more program options to achieve energy reductions and housing improvements through one program.

Option 1 Provision: Improved Coordination Among State Agencies for Weatherization

(a) By [January 1, 2021], the [relevant state agencies] shall coordinate with the [state public utility commission] and the [state agency for public health] to identify best practices from model programs and funding mechanisms, and provide a recommended action plan to do all of the following:

(1) Ensure greater cross-referral between public health agencies, the [relevant state agency for equity] and the [state low-income weatherization program] for comprehensive energy and healthy home improvements for low-income multifamily residents in disadvantaged communities.

(2) [Create programs that have broad eligibility for low-income and disadvantaged communities. Create mechanisms to monitor deferral rates among programs and to decrease deferral rates for programs on an annual basis.]

(3) [Create program requirements for collaborating with disadvantaged communities to expand engagement and recruit eligible participants for programs.]

(4) Promote projects that include energy and health improvements that do all of the following:

(A) Provide net financial benefits, inclusive of consumer costs and utility costs. [The programs shall provide the energy assistance necessary to ensure households have access to affordable electricity. Energy assistance can include limits on energy burdens, utility bill assistance, remediation measures, efficiency upgrades, appliance electrification and other upgrades that ultimately lower energy costs for tenants. Energy assistance can also include rooftop solar and/or community solar programs.]

(B) Provide health benefits to tenants in low-income multifamily properties. [Measures shall include toxic chemical abatement, roof repair, wiring repair, indoor ventilation and other measures as recommended by the agencies.]

(C) Provide increased indoor air quality and address asthma or respiratory issues triggered by mold and moisture. [Programs shall provide dehumidifier installation, appliance electrification, and other health and safety testing and measures.]

(D) [Provide weatherization, energy efficiency and electrification upgrades. Measures shall include building envelope improvements, air tightness and sealing to reduce energy use, electric equipment upgrades, electrification of appliances for space heating, water heating and cooking.]

(E) [Provide net financial benefits based on equipment and fuel prices over the life of the retrofit under a highly electrified economy scenario that achieves state climate objectives.]

(5) Create mechanisms for enforcing state energy upgrade program requirements to maintain the affordability of benefiting units to low-income tenants.

This option is based on Washington H.B. 1720, which was signed into law in 2015.37 The Washington legislation expands weatherization programs to include health-focused residential structure upgrades based on then “emerging scientific evidence linking residents’ health outcomes such as asthma, lead poisoning, and unintentional injuries to substandard housing.” Consequently, the law directs state agencies to do weatherization and energy efficiency activities as well as the moderate to significant repair and rehabilitation of residential structures that is required as a precursor to weatherization. Although the Washington legislation focused on energy efficiency, states may choose to add electrification considerations to the program.

Option 2 Provision: Weatherization Plus Health

(a) Definitions:

(1) “Direct outreach” means the use of door-to-door contact, community events and other methods of direct interaction with customers to inform them of energy efficiency and weatherization opportunities.

(2) A “sponsor” means any entity including but not limited to any local community action agency, tribal nation, community service agency or any other participating agency, or any public service company, municipality, public utility district, mutual or cooperative, or any combination of such entities that jointly submits a proposal.

(3) “Sustainable residential weatherization” or “weatherization” means activities that use funds administered by the [relevant state agency] for one or more of the following:

(A) Energy and resource conservation;

(B) Energy efficiency improvements;

(C) [Electrical system upgrades to accommodate appliance electrification and vehicle charging equipment];

(D) [Electrification of appliances for space heating, water heating and cooking];

(E) Repairs, indoor air quality improvements and health and safety improvements; and

(F) [Building occupant education.]

(b) Funds administered by the [relevant state agency] for activities authorized under this section may only be used for the preservation of a dwelling unit occupied by a low-income household and must, to the extent feasible, be used to support and advance sustainable technologies.

(c) The [relevant state agency] shall solicit proposals for low-income weatherization programs from potential sponsors. A proposal shall state the amount of the sponsor match, the amount requested, the name of the weatherizing agency and any other information required by the [relevant state agency]. The following requirements shall apply:

(1) A sponsor may use its own moneys, including corporate or ratepayer moneys, or moneys provided by landlords, charitable groups, government programs, utilities or other sources, to pay the sponsor match.

(2) Moneys provided by a sponsor pursuant to requirements in this section shall be in addition to and shall not supplant any funding for low-income weatherization that would otherwise have been provided by the sponsor or any other entity enumerated in subsection (a) of this section.

(3) No proposal may require any contribution as a condition of weatherization from any household whose residence is weatherized under the proposal.

(4) Proposals shall provide that full levels of all cost-effective, structurally feasible, sustainable residential weatherization materials, measures and practices, as determined by the [relevant state agency], shall be installed when a low-income residence is weatherized.

(5) Sponsors may propose to utilize grant awards and matching funds to make healthy housing improvements to homes undergoing weatherization.

(d) Allocation of funds

(1) The [relevant state agency] may in its discretion accept, accept in part or reject proposals submitted.

(2) The [relevant state agency] shall prioritize allocating funds from the low-income weatherization and structural rehabilitation assistance account to projects that maximize energy efficiency and electrification, extend the usable life of an affordable home and improve the health and safety of its residents by:

(A) Installing energy efficiency measures;

(B) Upgrading electrical systems to accommodate appliance electrification and vehicle charging infrastructure;

(C) [Electrifying appliances such as space heating, water heating, cooking and vehicles]; and

(D) Providing structural rehabilitation and repairs, so that funding from federal energy efficiency programs is distributed expeditiously.

(3) When allocating funds from the low-income weatherization and structural rehabilitation assistance account, the [relevant state agency] shall, to the extent feasible, consider local and state benefits, including pledged sponsor match, available energy efficiency, repair and rehabilitation funds from other sources, the preservation of affordable housing and balance of participation in proportion to population among low-income households for:

(A) Geographic regions in the state;

(B) Types of fuel used for heating, except that the [relevant state agency] shall encourage the use of energy efficient sustainable technologies;

(C) Owner-occupied and rental residences; and

(D) Single-family and multifamily dwellings.

(4) The [relevant state agency] shall then allocate funds appropriated from the low-income weatherization and structural rehabilitation assistance account for energy efficiency and repair activities among proposals accepted or accepted in part.

(5) The [relevant state agency] shall develop policies to ensure prudent, cost-effective investments are made in homes and buildings requiring energy efficiency, repair and rehabilitation improvements that will maximize energy savings, extend the life of a home and improve the health and safety of its residents.

(6) The [relevant state agency] shall give priority to the structural rehabilitation and weatherization of dwelling units occupied by low-income households with incomes at or below 125% of the federally established poverty level.

(7) The [relevant state agency] may allocate funds to a nonutility sponsor without requiring a sponsor match if the [relevant state agency] determines that such an allocation is necessary to provide the greatest benefits to low-income residents of the state.

(8) The [relevant state agency] shall require weatherizing agencies to employ individuals trained from workforce training and apprentice programs if these workers are available; pay prevailing wages; hire from the community in which the program is located; and create employment opportunities for veterans, members of the National Guard and low-income and disadvantaged populations.

(e) Sponsor matching contributions

(1) A sponsor may elect to:

(A) Pay a sponsor match as a lump sum at the time of structural rehabilitation or weatherization; or

(B) Make yearly payments to the low-income weatherization and structural rehabilitation assistance account over a period not to exceed 10 years. If a sponsor elects to make yearly payments, the value of the payments shall not be less than the value of the lump-sum payment that would have been made under this subsection.

(2) The [relevant state agency] may permit a sponsor to meet its match requirement in whole or in part through providing labor, materials or other in-kind expenditures.

(f) Service providers receiving funding under this section must report to the [relevant state agency] at least quarterly, or in alignment with federal reporting, whichever is the greater frequency, the project costs; the number of dwelling units repaired, rehabilitated and weatherized; the number of jobs created or maintained; and the number of individuals trained through workforce training and apprentice programs. The director of the [relevant state agency] shall review the accuracy of these reports.

(g) The [relevant state agency] shall adopt rules to carry out this section.

Many states focus energy efficiency programs on low- and moderate-income customers as a way to reduce energy consumption and lower their energy costs. At least eight states have enacted laws requiring utilities to spend a certain percentage of their energy efficiency funding on programs for low-income customers.38 Other states are using workforce development programs to increase focus on low-income homes.

This legislative option is based upon Massachusetts’ Building Justice with Jobs plan.39 The full legislation creates a task force charged with creating a clean energy jobs plan that must meet Massachusetts’ clean energy goals by achieving emissions reductions. Option 3 is an excerpt of one aspect of the legislation that directs improvements to low-income homes. The program must reduce energy costs to program participants and provide specific home improvements, including heat insulation renovations, heating system electrification, distributed generation installation and energy efficient appliance installation. The plan prioritizes homes for low-income and overburdened communitiesoverburdened communities “Minority, low-income, tribal, or indigenous populations or geographic locations in the United States that potentially experience disproportionate environmental harms and risks. This disproportionality can be as a result of greater vulnerability to environmental hazards, lack of opportunity for public participation, or other factors” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Largely synonymous terms include “marginalized,” “front-line,” “underserved” and “environmental justice” communities. and requires rent freezes for a period of time after renovations are complete to avoid gentrification. The Massachusetts legislation required a rent freeze by owners of renovated buildings for at least six months and no more than seven years.

Option 3 Provision: State Plan to Focus Retrofit Programs on Low-Income Populations

(a) Task force creation.

(1) The [state legislature] hereby establishes the [name] task force.

(2) The purpose of the [name] task force is to develop the [name] plan, using the processes and requirements described in subsection (b).

(3) The [name] task force shall be composed of [number] members: [designate members that may include representatives from a state housing agency and finance agency, state codes office, state energy office and weatherization agency; and representatives of governor appointees of nonprofits specializing in low-income housing issues, housing displacement prevention and tenant rights, urban environment and public health, rural environmental issues and public health, environmental justice, building accessibility for people with disabilities, low-income advocates and labor]. [Title] shall serve as the chairperson of the task force. [Title] shall serve as vice chairperson of the task force.

(4) The task force shall make decisions according to a majority voting procedure in which all members may cast a single vote. In the case of a tie vote, the chairperson of the task force shall be empowered to break the tie by casting a deciding vote.

(5) A full and complete transcript of each meeting of the task force shall be made publicly available.

(b) Plan

(1) Immediately after the enactment of this section, the task force shall begin developing the [name] plan. The [name] plan shall be finalized and published no later than [x] months after the enactment of this section.

(2) The [name] plan must achieve the following goals:

(A) [Reduce annual statewide housing-related carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, compared with statewide housing-related emissions in [year]].

(B) [Reduce energy costs to participants in the program];

(C) [Reach [x%] of low-income and disadvantaged community homes in [state] by [year]];

(D) [Deployment of [number] heat pumps [annually][by date].

(E) [X%] reduction in smog-forming nitrogen oxides or other air pollutants from the building sector by [date];

(3) The [name] plan must ensure that no fewer than [1 million][number] homes in [state] receive housing renovations that are performed, required or subsidized by the state government in the [10][x] years immediately following the enactment of this section.

(4) The [name] plan may achieve the goals set forth in this section by expanding and amending existing state programs, or by creating new programs or some combination of those two possibilities. The [name] plan must be designed to coincide efficiently and effectively with other governmental and nongovernmental programs, avoiding duplicative work whenever feasible

(5) The [name] plan must include a detailed description of:

(A) The renovations, installations and retrofits that different types of homes may be eligible to receive as part of a housing renovation, including, but not limited to, heat insulation renovations, heating system electrification, distributed generation installation, electrical upgrades to accommodate appliance electrification and vehicle charging infrastructure and energy efficient [electrified] appliance installation;

(B) The system used to determine which homes will receive housing emissions renovations;

(C) The order in which those homes will receive housing renovations;

(D) The labor standards that will apply to workers involved in completing housing renovations, provided such labor standards are consistent [with Section [x]][with state law];

(E) A detailed, comprehensive program for how to train new workers to complete housing emissions audits, environmental hazard remediation projects and housing renovations, in order to eliminate the labor shortages in the relevant professions as quickly as possible; and

(F) How the [name] plan will meet the [1 million][number] homes requirement.

(6) The [name] plan must, at all times, prioritize retrofitting homes located in census tracts with a lower median household income than the statewide median household income over homes located in census tracts with a median household income that is equal to or greater than the statewide median household income. The [name] plan must specify how many homes located in census tracts with a lower median household income than the statewide median household income will receive housing renovations during each year of the program.

(7) The [name] plan must, at all times, [prioritize][provide at least 40% of investments for] retrofitting homes located within environmental justice populations over homes that are not located within environmental justice populations. The [name] plan must specify how many homes in environmental justice populations will receive housing emissions renovations during each year of the program.

(8) The [name] plan shall include a detailed program for advertising the availability of housing audits, preexisting environmental hazard remediation projects and housing renovations and jobs to complete those audits, projects and renovations. This program shall focus on environmental justice populations and census tracts with a median household income that is below the statewide median household income.

(9) The [name] plan shall include programs and rules designed to make residential buildings accessible for persons with physical disabilities when those buildings are undergoing a gut rehabilitation as part of a preexisting environmental hazard remediation project, or a housing renovation, or both.

(10) The task force shall continue meeting after the [name] plan is completed to monitor the implementation of the [name] plan. The task force may revise the [name] plan when, in the judgment of the chairperson, such revisions are appropriate or directed to do so by the [state legislature or state agency] or upon petition of [number] citizens received by the [relevant state agency].

(c) State agency for new programs

(1) If the [name] plan creates new state programs to complete housing emissions audits, preexisting environmental hazard remediation projects and housing emissions renovations, the [name] plan shall vest the responsibility and authority to implement and oversee those programs with the [relevant state agency]. The [name] plan may vest the responsibility and authority to implement and oversee new state programs in a different administrative agency if the chairperson determines that doing so would be appropriate.

(2) All administrative agencies, including, but not limited to, the [lead state agency], shall be required to comply with any and all relevant instructions and requirements within the [name] plan.

(3) The [lead state agency] shall develop programs and regulations to protect tenants of homes or buildings that received either a preexisting environmental hazard remediation project or a housing emissions renovation, or both. These regulations shall include, but shall not be limited to, a regulation ensuring that the rental fee for a home or building that received either a preexisting environmental hazard remediation project or a housing emissions renovation, or both, shall not be increased for a period of at least [x] months and no more than [x] years. The precise time period shall be based upon the cost and complexity of the preexisting environmental hazard remediation project or the housing emissions renovation applied to the home or building that the tenant is renting.

Many states have their own low-income energy assistance and energy efficiency programs to supplement federal funding. As of September 2021, 16 states supplement LIHEAP and WAP funds beyond what is provided for at the federal level.40 States bolster funding in a number of ways, including mandatory utility funding for energy assistance, enabling voluntary contributions via state income taxes and various donation options on utility bills.41 Other states, such as Vermont, support supplemental weatherization funds with gross tax receipts on fuel retail sales, funds from the state’s Oil Overcharge Fund, LIHEAP funds, grants supplied by the Vermont Low Income Trust for Electricity and other appropriate funds.42

Option 4 is based on legislation in Maryland,43 Illinois44 and Vermont45 that coordinates funding for weatherization and energy assistance among several federal and state programs and funds. Even with the boost in federal funding, coordination of funding sources that fund disparate home retrofits is necessary to ensure a holistic retrofit program.

Option 4 Provision: Consolidating Funding Streams for Weatherization

(a) The [relevant state agency] shall [develop a plan][create or expand an existing agency program] to coordinate funding sources and leverage the greatest funding possible to support:

(1) Health and safety upgrades;

(2) Weatherization;

(3) Electrical systems upgrades to accommodate appliance electrification and electric vehicle charging equipment

(4) [Electrification end uses, including space heating, water heating, cooking, electric vehicles and electric appliances];

(5) [A “switch and save” program to provide financial and technical assistance for [state residents] with low and moderate income to install, at low or no cost, heat pump water heaters [and/or heat pumps], with a focus on replacing water heaters [or furnaces] near the end of their useful life];

(6) Energy efficiency;

(7) [Onsite or community renewables]; and

(8) Other general maintenance for low-income housing.

(b) The [plan][program] shall coordinate funding among:

(1) [Relevant existing state funds];

(2) Federal weatherization assistance programs;

(3) [Relevant ratepayer-funded programs in the state];

(4) [Any state housing trust or other funds];

(5) U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs, including:

(A) Community Development Block Grants;

(B) HOME Investment Partnerships program;

(C) Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes grants; and

(D) Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids campaign

(6) U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, including:

(A) Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants; and

(B) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

(7) State appropriations;

(8) [Any existing or newly created state fund that accepts donations from individuals, foundations and corporations for weatherization assistance];

(9) [Any state green bankgreen bank A financial institution that can leverage public funding to attract private capital for clean energy projects (including energy efficiency, renewable energy and other distributed energy resources) and other “green” investments. or clean energy accelerator];

(10) [Any climate mitigation funds]; and

(11) Any other sources of funding that the [relevant state agency] or [state task force] identifies.

(c) [The [relevant state agency] [plan][program] shall also create a single application approach that allows applicants to apply to all the programs they need. Any income verification that is a necessary component of the application shall use geographic income verification or landlord certification that rents are affordable in the building. The [relevant state agency] shall seek broad stakeholder input for this application process, including specific input from low-income community advocates.]

Additional Resources

Community Action Partnership. (n.d.). Energy Partnerships & Programs.

Explore Other Topics


  1. U.S. Department of Energy. (n.d.). Whole-house weatherization.
  2. Bednar, D., & Reames, T. (2020, March 23). Recognition of and response to energy poverty in the United States. Nature Energy, 5, 432-439
  3. Bednar & Reames, 2020.  
  4. Bednar & Reames, 2020.
  5. Bednar & Reames, 2020. Additionally, while WAP funding may be used on rental properties, it rarely is, due to program design and other issues. For example, an analysis of a WAP pilot program in the state of Washington found that 92% of housing units served were single-family owner-occupied homes because program requirements for landlord participation made it difficult to serve rental units. Schueler, V. (2018, July 23). The Washington state Weatherization Plus Health pilot: Implementation and lessons learned. Washington State University.
  6. In some states, such as Virginia, other forms of utility funding may be available, including utility foundation funded programs.
  7. Bednar & Reames, 2020.
  8. Drehobl, A. (2020, July 7). Weatherization cuts bills and creates jobs but serves only a tiny share of low-income homes. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, citing National Association for State Community Services Programs, WAP Annual Funding Surveys.
  9. Smedick, D., Golden, R., & Petersen, A. (2022, August 31). The Inflation Reduction Act could transform the US buildings sector. RMI.
  10. U.S. Department of Energy. (2022a). Managing multiple funding streams within the Weatherization Assistance Program. Weatherization Program Notice 22-9.
  11. U.S. Department of Energy, 2022a.
  12. U.S. Department of Energy, 2022a.
  13. U.S. Department of Energy, 2022a.
  14. Schroeder, D. (2022, September). Weatherization braiding skills training: Community Action Partnership webinar [Recording]. U.S. Department of Energy.
  15. Benshoff, L. (2022, May 13). A low-income energy-efficiency program gets $3.5B boost, but leaves out many in need. National Public Radio.
  16. Rose, E., Hawkins, B., Ashcraft, L., & Miller, C. (2015, February). Exploratory review of grantee, subgrantee and client experiences with deferred services under the weatherization assistance program. Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  17. Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (2010). Identified barriers and opportunities to make housing green and healthy through weatherization.
  18. Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, 2010.
  19. Benshoff, 2022.
  20. Counts, C. (2020, December 11). Utilizing Virginia RGGI revenue to support existing low-income energy efficiency programs. LinkedIn.
  21. U.S. Department of Energy. (2022b). Weatherization Assistance Program weatherization readiness fund guidelines. Weatherization Program Notice 22-6. Additionally, a federal bill was introduced that would create a repair fund for homes in need of preweatherization assistance and raise the federal cap on the average weatherization cost per home to decrease deferrals. Weatherization Assistance Program Improvements Act of 2022, S.B. 3769, 117th Cong. (2021-2022).
  22. The Weatherization Enhancement and Readiness Act of 2022 (H.R. 7947) would provide dedicated annual funding to preweatherization work. See Tonka, P. (n.d.). Making weatherization work better for all.
  23. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (n.d.). FY 2021 Healthy Homes and Weatherization Cooperation Demonstration.
  24. Stewart, R. (2012, February 28). Weatherization plus health: The next step for WAP. Home Energy.
  25. National Association for State Community Services Programs. (n.d.). Pre-WAP program examples.
  26. National Association for State Community Services Programs, n.d.
  27. Act of April 22, 2020, ch. 1280, S.B. 1027, Gen. Assemb. (Va. 2020) (enacted).
  28. Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. (n.d.). Housing Innovations in Energy Efficiency (HIEE). RGGI and other climate programs may be similarly used to address WAP deferrals in other states.
  29. Kresowick, M., & Reeg, L. (2022, March 31). Funding our future: Creating a one-stop shop for whole-home retrofits. RMI.
  30. Kresowick & Reeg, 2022. See also National Association for State Community Services Program. (2018). WAP income generation and leveraging — A state perspective.
  31. Environmental and Energy Study Institute. (2019, September 16). How do communities ensure federal energy programs help those most in need?
  32. Philadelphia Energy Authority. (2020). Built to last.
  33. National Association for State Community Services Programs. (n.d.). 2019 poverty census data & COVID impacts.
  34. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development & Bloomberg Philanthropies. (2015). Green investment banks: Policy perspectives.
  35. Climate Solutions Now Act, ch. 38, S.B. 528 (Md. 2022) (enacted).
  36. Affordable Housing: Weatherization, A.B. 1232, 2019-2020 Reg. Sess. (Calif. 2019) (enacted).
  37. Housing — Health and Safety, ch. 50, H.B. 1720, Laws of 2015, 64th Cong., 2015 Reg. Sess. (Wash. 2015) (enacted).
  38. As of September 2021, these eight states were Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia. Shields, L. (2021, September 23). Bolstering federal energy assistance and weatherization with state clean energy programs. National Conference of State Legislatures.
  39. An Act Providing for Building Justice with Jobs, S.D. 2102, 192nd Gen. Court (Mass. 2022) (enacted).
  40. Shields, 2021. These 16 states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
  41. Shields, 2021.
  42. Shields, 2021.
  43. An Act Concerning Public Utilities — Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programs — Energy Performance Targes and Low-Income Housing, H.B. 108, (Md. 2022).
  44. Energy Assistance Act, ch. 111, 305 Illinois Compiled Statues 20/.
  45. Big Bill — Fiscal Year 2023, Act 185, 2022 Vt. Laws.