Each year, an alarming percentage of cooled and heated air escapes from your home. This is the same air that you pay to cool or warm, and probably represents a fair amount of the income you work so hard to earn. The alternative, however, is not that much better, because it involves spending MORE money. The obvious solution to inadequate insulation, is to provide more insulation, but that can become very expensive, very quickly. And for an awful lot of single moms, that’s just not an option, so we continue to spend a little extra each month, to avoid spending a lot more in one fell swoop.
Fortunately, there are a few options to choose from, when it comes to finding assistance to weatherize your house, and to use less energy than you currently do . It is important to recognize that saved energy results in a “greener” environment, so there are several reasons ( in addition to the financial savings) that it makes sense to conserve energy. In some communities, you will also find local charities that offer additional help, so you might want to look into those resources as well. You may also find that some weatherization plans have waiting lists, or provide more funding in different, harsher seasons than others.
Weatherization Assistance Program for Low-Income Persons
This program exists as the result of a grant from the Department of Energy. They provide assistance to eligible persons by:
1) Auditing the existing energy output of your home, with recommendations on how to increase performance
2) Helping to pay for insulation
3) Possibly paying for new heating or cooling systems, as well as upgrades or repairs to existing systems
4) Providing for new water heaters or electric appliances, if these items will result in homes that are more energy efficient
5) Allowing any one household to receive in one calendar year, an average amount of approximately 6,500.00. in funds to protect their home, although this amount will have limits that are established by the state
Any low-income family that has an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty line will be eligible for this type of assistance. That means that you will automatically be eligible for assistance if you currently receive any type of help from the state , like WIC, food stamps, Medicaid, section 8 assisted housing, or even if your kids are on the free or reduced lunch program at school. If you would like to apply, their website can link you to the closest office to you that handles assistance at: http://www.waptac.org/Contacts.aspx.
Energy Star Tax Credit
If you are not eligible for grant assistance from the state, you might still be interested in the Energy Star Tax Credit. You will probably be eligible for this tax credit if you have bought an energy-efficient product like:
3) Air-conditioning or heating Units ( including some portable or window units)
5) Washers and Dryers
6) Certain other appliances with the “energy star” logo
In addition, if you want to be able to use solar panels or other alternative energy sources, like wind panels, you might like to know that there is currently an
available tax credit for up to 30% of the purchase price. Obviously, you should make sure that you get the best possible price when you buy your products, and make sure you still have your receipt.
Federal, State, County and Local Help
Most government officials are able to recognize that a “greener” environment is necessary if we hope to still be living in the world in the future. As the result of that knowledge, in many communities, you will see some rebates, discounts, and free assistance to weatherize your home. The most appropriate place to start a search on the local level will be with the Department of Energy office in your state.
You may also notice that the vast majority of funds available through your local offices will have a heavy emphasis on things like solar panels or wind panels. If you ask, they should be able to let you know what type, and how much funding, they have available, and how of that funding you are eligible for at the time you apply. If the type of funding that is available now is not compatible with your needs, it might benefit you to ask when their new funding will become available.
Additionally, some areas that experience severe summer heat or extreme cold in winter have been known to offer loans to low-income households to help them adequately insulate their homes. This typically is not a federal program and will have different guidelines than you might experience elsewhere. These guidelines should be made clear to you at the time you apply, but if they’re not, be sure to ask. The people in this office might also be able to tell if there are forms of assistance that will meet your needs in the area. I truly believe that if you don’t ask for what you need, you probably won’t get help it. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself!
Although it may seem difficult to plan for it, even a small investment to insulate your home, or to use smaller amounts of energy on a regular basis will have a positive, long-term effect on your home and your energy bills. The cumulative effect on the world, and on your local environment, if everyone were to take small steps, could be enormous. And, as the saying goes, every journey begins with one small step. You could be the first person to take that small step in your community.