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Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

Health Factors: Housing & Transit
Decision Makers: Community Development Professionals State Government Federal Government
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

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 replacement (Tonn 2014). 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 households (US DOE-WAP Formula). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Improved health outcomes
Improved well-being
Increased energy efficiency
Reduced energy expenditures
Improved mental health
Reduced absenteeism

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 families (Tonn 2014). 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 health (Thomson 2015, Maidment 2014, Curl 2015, Howden-Chapman 2007), 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 hospitalizations (Thomson 2015, Howden-Chapman 2007).

Cost benefit analysis shows a high value return for the cost of retrofitting homes with insulation (Chapman 2009) 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) (Schweitzer 2005, US DOE-WAP).  By reducing spending on heating needs, WAP may increase food security (Tonn 2014) and decrease the need for other government assistance related to high-energy heating needs (Tonn 2003). 

Implementation

United States

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) (ACEEE-Energy policies).

Wisconsin

WisWAP offers services to eligible households that include members who are elderly, have disabilities, and/or include children under age 6, and have an excessive energy burden. Services differ with each home. Common weatherization services include insulation, insulating/replacing water heater, installation of energy efficient lighting, reducing air leakage, repairing/replacing furnace, testing/replacing refrigerator, general health and safety inspection, and providing maintenance and energy conservation information (Home Energy Plus).

Implementation Resources

ACEEE-SmarterHouse - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). SmarterHouse: an up-to-date guide on energy savings in the home. Accessed on August 4, 2017
US DOE-WAP - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP). Accessed on August 4, 2017
WAP-NH - New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning. Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) frequently asked questions. Accessed on August 4, 2017

Citations - Description

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. Accessed on August 29, 2017
US DOE-WAP Formula - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP) allocation formula. Accessed on August 4, 2017

Citations - Evidence

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. Accessed on August 4, 2017
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. Accessed on August 29, 2017
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. Accessed on August 4, 2017
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. Accessed on August 29, 2017
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. Accessed on August 4, 2017
Thomson 2015 - Thomson H, Thomas S. Developing empirically supported theories of change for housing investment and health. Social Science & Medicine. 2015;124:205-214. Accessed on July 27, 2016
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. Accessed on August 24, 2017
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. Accessed on August 29, 2017
US DOE-WAP - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP). Accessed on August 4, 2017

Citations - Implementation

ACEEE-Energy policies - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). State and local policy database of energy efficiency policies and programs. Accessed on August 4, 2017
Home Energy Plus - Home Energy Plus. Wisconsin’s weatherization assistance program. Accessed on August 4, 2017

Page Last Updated

August 29, 2017

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