The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a program of the US Department of Energy that assists low income families in making their homes more energy efficient and permanently reducing energy bills. The program often supports insulation of walls and attics, air sealing, ventilation improvements, furnace repair and replacement, and refrigerator replacement1. Federal funds are allocated to each state based on the percentage of low income residents, climatic conditions (heating and cooling degree-days), and residential energy expenditures by low income households2.
Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)
Improved health outcomes
Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes
Increased energy efficiency
Reduced energy expenditures
Improved mental health
Evidence of Effectiveness
There is some evidence that the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) improves health and well-being by increasing warmth through insulation and energy efficiency measures for low income families1. Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects of the program overall.
Housing improvements that increase warmth have shown consistent positive effects on well-being and health3, 4, 5, 6, including respiratory, mental health, and self-rated general health. Such improvements have also been shown to reduce children’s absences from school, adult absences from work, doctor’s visits, and hospitalizations3, 6.
Cost benefit analysis shows a high value return for the cost of retrofitting homes with insulation7 and reports suggest WAP generates significant annual household energy and cost savings (average of 30.5 million BTUs per year and about $437 per year depending on fuel prices)8, 9. By reducing spending on heating needs, WAP may increase food security1 and decrease the need for other government assistance related to high-energy heating needs10.
Impact on Disparities
The federal Weatherization Assistance Program is available in all states. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has an interactive database map of state and local energy-efficient policies and programs, which includes information on the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP)11.
ACEEE-Smarter House - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Smarter House: Reduce your impact and home energy breakdown.
US DOE-WAP - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP).
WAP-NH - New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning. Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) frequently asked questions.
LHS - Local Housing Solutions (LHS). To enhance local affordability and foster inclusive communities. New York University, Furman Center and Abt Associates, Inc.
LHS-COVID-19 response - Local Housing Solutions (LHS), NYU Furman Center, Abt Associates. Housing issues: COVID-19.
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1 Tonn 2014 - Tonn B, Rose E, Hawkins B, Conlon B. Health and household-related benefits attributable to the Weatherization Assistance Program. Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managed by UT-Battelle for the US Department of Energy (US DOEnergy); 2014.
2 US DOE-WAP Formula - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP) allocation formula.
3 Thomson 2015 - Thomson H, Thomas S. Developing empirically supported theories of change for housing investment and health. Social Science & Medicine. 2015;124:205-214.
4 Maidment 2014* - Maidment CD, Jones CR, Webb TL, Hathway EA, Gilbertson JM. The impact of household energy efficiency measures on health: A meta-analysis. Energy Policy. 2014;65:583-593.
5 Curl 2015 - Curl A, Kearns A. Can housing improvements cure or prevent the onset of health conditions over time in deprived areas? BMC Public Health. 2015;15(1):1191.
6 Howden-Chapman 2007 - Howden-Chapman P, Matheson A, Crane J, et al. Effect of insulating existing houses on health inequality: Cluster randomized study in the community. BMJ. 2007;334(7591):460.
7 Chapman 2009* - Chapman R, Howden-Chapman P, Viggers H, O’Dea D, Kennedy M. Retrofitting houses with insulation: A cost-benefit analysis of a randomised community trial. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2009;63(4):271-7.
8 Schweitzer 2005 - Schweitzer M. Estimating the national effects of the US Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program with state-level data: A meta-evaluation using studies from 1993 to 2005. Oak Ridge: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); 2005: ORNL/CON-493.
9 US DOE-WAP - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP).
10 Tonn 2003* - Tonn B, Schmoyer R, Wagner S. Weatherizing the homes of low-income home energy assistance program clients: A programmatic assessment. Energy Policy. 2003;31(8):735-44.
11 ACEEE-Energy policies - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). State and local policy database of energy efficiency policies and programs.
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