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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. The program assists low income families to make their homes more energy efficient and to permanently reduce their energy bills (US DOE-WAP).

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 the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) generates positive effects on health and well-being by helping low income families make their homes more energy efficient. Evidence is strongest for insulation measures (Howden-Chapman 2007, Cochrane-Thomson 2013, NICE-Taske 2005). Additional evidence is needed to confirm health effects of other program services.

Housing improvements targeting warmth have shown consistent positive effects on physical and mental health including general, respiratory, and mental health outcomes, as well as measures of well-being such as 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 (Cochrane-Thomson 2013, Howden-Chapman 2007).

Cost benefit analysis shows a high value return for the cost of retrofitting homes with insulation (Chapman 2009) and reports show that 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). WAP may also decrease the need for other government assistance related to high-energy heating needs (Tonn 2008).

Implementation

United States

The federal Weatherization Assistance Program is available in all states. The allocation of federal funding depends on three factors for each state: (1) low income population; (2) climatic conditions (heating and cooling degree-days); and (3) residential energy expenditures by low income households (US DOE-WAP Formula). The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has an interactive database map of state and local energy-efficient policies and programs (ACEEE-Energy policies).

Wisconsin

WisWAP offers services to eligible households that include members who are elderly, handicapped and/or 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 July 27, 2016
US DOE-WAP - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP). Accessed on March 1, 2017
WAP-NH - New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning. Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) frequently asked questions. Accessed on March 14, 2016

Citations - Description

US DOE-WAP - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP). Accessed on March 1, 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 December 8, 2015
Cochrane-Thomson 2013* - Thomson H, Thomas S, Sellstrom E, Petticrew M. Housing improvements for health and associated socio-economic outcomes. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013;(2):CD008657. Accessed on December 8, 2015
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 1, 2016
NICE-Taske 2005 - Taske N, Taylor L, Mulvihill C, et al. Housing and public health: A review of reviews of interventions for improving health - Evidence briefing. London, UK: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE); 2005. Accessed on July 27, 2016
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 May 24, 2016
Tonn 2008* - 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 May 20, 2016
US DOE-WAP - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP). Accessed on March 1, 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 March 14, 2016
Home Energy Plus - Home Energy Plus. Wisconsin’s weatherization assistance program. Accessed on February 4, 2016
US DOE-WAP Formula - US Department of Energy (US DOE). Weatherization assistance program (WAP) allocation formula. Accessed on March 1, 2017

Page Last Updated

March 16, 2016

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