by Steve Graham, Networx
It may not be too late to take advantage of federal stimulus money. In particular, many homes still qualify for weatherization and energy-efficiency grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 President Barack Obamas original stimulus bill.
The measure is now largely described in past tense, with discussions focused on the perceived successes and failures of the money, as well as the potential impacts of a second stimulus bill. However, it is hard to gauge the impacts of some ARRA funding because it has not yet been spent.
Recovery.gov, the official site of the stimulus bill, states that ARRA money has been used to weatherize more than 108,000 homes, and has saved more than $47 million on energy bills.
Remaining stimulus funding is available in several states. Here is a small sampling of available programs:
Michigan just launched a new $15 million weatherization grant program through the Michigan Community Action Agency Association. Eligible low-income, multi-family housing may qualify for a free energy audit to determine the potential for increasing energy efficiency. The grant can then help cover qualified furnace replacements, insulation installation, air sealing and other weatherization and energy-saving measures. For more information, visit mcaaa.org.
In Nebraska, Energy Pioneer Solutions helps low-income families pay for weatherization services. The company offers loans for half the value of selected energy upgrades, and can collect payments directly through utility bills.
The Utah Department of Community and Economic Development offers low-interest loans for weatherization upgrades in up to 450 households with income levels at 150 to 200 percent of the poverty level.
Habitat for Humanity International is working in 18 chapters from California to Florida to provide technical assistance, training materials, and funding for weatherization of homes.
YouthBuild USA chapters throughout the Midwest and Northeast will help weatherize low-income homes, with a standardized approach to auditing, installation, and post-retrofit evaluation.
People Working Cooperatively will deploy volunteers to help perform weatherization projects in approximately 675 low-income households in Indiana and Ohio.
New Hampshire is offering weatherization assistance for manufactured and mobile housing.
The University of North Carolina Charlotte is adding an educational element to its weatherization efforts, with real-time energy monitoring on projects where energy use is expected to decline.
Similarly, Pennsylvania is spending $2.4 million in stimulus funding, in part to distribute in-home energy-usage display devices, and test their effectiveness. The state will also help test the financial incentives of carbon credits and energy-efficiency certificates.
While pundits and electioneering politicians discuss whether the 2009 stimulus bill helped or hurt the American economy, you may be able to keep using stimulus dollars for home upgrades.