Lansing, MI - As the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer raise awareness during Weatherization Month, MDHHS is receiving a large increase in federal funding for home weatherization.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden created a $3.5 billion stimulus for the Weatherization Assistance Program in addition to existing funding. This means more than $183 million in additional funding is available to Michigan over the life of the stimulus, which is estimated at five to seven years.
If the spending occurs over five years, it will roughly triple annual production and expenditures in Michigan from 1,300 to 3,900 homes. These federal funds have been released and will be available to local weatherization operators beginning Nov. 1.
The Weatherization Assistance Program reduces household energy costs by an average of $283 per year – benefitting approximately 1,500 low-income families in Michigan. Income eligibility is up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $36,620 for a household of two or $55,500 for a household of four.
The governor has proclaimed October as Weatherization Month in Michigan.
“MDHHS wants to make sure Michigan residents can keep their heat turned on this winter,” said Elizabeth Hertel, the department’s director. “Getting your home weatherized will reduce energy costs, allowing you to spend your money on food, clothing and other critical household needs.”
The U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program is administered at the state level by the MDHHS Bureau of Community Action and Economic Opportunity. MDHHS utilizes Community Action Agencies and non-profit organizations to provide weatherization services at the local level.
Trained weatherization professionals known as energy auditors use computerized energy audit software and advanced diagnostic equipment such as blower doors and infrared cameras to create a comprehensive energy analysis of the home. This analysis helps determine the most cost-effective measures to install in each home. The energy auditor creates a customized work order. Then trained contractors and crew members install the energy-efficient and health and safety measures, such as insulation, blower-door-guided air sealing of key leakage junctures, and installations such as lighting and water-saving measures.
Health and safety issues such as elevated levels of carbon monoxide, moisture problems, mold, ventilation needs, and heating systems safety and efficiency are also addressed. There is growing evidence the program provides benefits beyond energy savings. Improved indoor air quality and appropriate ventilation strategies lead to healthier living conditions in weatherized homes, which often lead to improved health outcomes such as reduced asthma triggers and fewer doctor visits.
Eligibility is based on household income and if the home’s current condition is weatherization ready.
Anyone interested in applying for the Weatherization Assistance Program can contact their local provider.
Training for those who work in the Weatherization Assistance Program is provided by the Michigan Training and Education Center. For more information about the training, visit www.MichiganTEC.org.