Washington, DC – May 28, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Energy announced today that Vermont has weatherized 847 homes under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as of March 31, 2010. Vermont is one of the country’s weatherization leaders and the first to weatherize more than 50% of their total targeted homes. Through the Weatherization Assistance Program, the state is making low-income homes more energy efficient, saving families an average of $437 on their energy bills the year after their homes were weatherized, according to a recent study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Recovery Act-funded program is also creating jobs locally. According to the state, about 75 workers were employed by state and local weatherization providers during the first three months of the year.
“What we see here today is that states like Vermont are moving forward aggressively with the weatherization program, delivering energy and cost savings for the families who need it most,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This Recovery Act funding is helping to create jobs in local communities while putting America on the path to a clean energy future.”
“This job opens a whole new field for me. Before taking this job, I didn’t know about the science behind buildings—now I have gained a lot of experience and hands-on education,” said Morgan McKane, a new worker hired under the Recovery Act. “I’ve taken my skills with older technologies and learned that you can do so much more with new materials and technologies. I’m excited about the new job opportunities this will present down the road.”
Morgan McKane joined the Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) agency in August 2009, as part of the agency’s ramp up to meet Recovery Act production requirements. Previously he was a self-employed builder. With the state’s training program, McKane has been able to build upon his construction skills.
Under the Recovery Act, Vermont was allocated $16.8 million for the weatherization program. The state previously had access to the first 50% of the funding. By weatherizing more than 30% of their total estimated homes and meeting a series of aggressive accountability and reporting milestones, Vermont now has access to the full $16.8 million to continue weatherizing homes across the state. Vermont plans to weatherize a total of more than 1,600 homes with their Recovery Act funding. Since February 2009, the state has also weatherized 1,379 homes under its annual weatherization program. Together with the Recovery Act funding, the state has now weatherized more than 2,226 homes since the Recovery Act began.
Under the weatherization program, states partner with local community action agencies or non-profit organizations to provide whole-home weatherization services. This includes conducting an energy audit in the home to identify the most cost-effective improvements and implementing solutions that range from installing additional insulation and weatherstripping, sealing windows and doors, caulking cracks in the building, and replacing inefficient water heaters.
Vermont’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) has overseen the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) for thirty-two years, using the same five providers for three decades. This long-term partnership has allowed Vermont’s program to consistently meet goals and deliver quality services to low-income Vermonters.
To deliver standard, quality services, Vermont partners with Vermont Technical College to provide access to the same training for all five agencies with a regularly-updated curriculum.
“It’s important that all workers receive the training. It adds to the consistency in the weatherization services delivered in Vermont,” says Harald Schmidtke, director of weatherization for SEVCA agency. SEVCA has been able to hire seven people through the Recovery Act.