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Save energy with Illinois weatherization assistance.

The United States Department of Energy is providing almost $100 million in aid to Illinois to help the state weatherize tens of thousands of homes. In total, over $300 million in funds from the Recovery Act (stimulus plan) will be provided to various states to expand weatherization assistance programs in Illinois, New York, and Georgia. Combined, these 3 states plan on weatherizing over 85,000 homes. The result of this will be lower energy bills and costs for low and mid income families that need the help. Other benefits will be reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and the creation of additional green jobs across the country.

There are some conditions to participating in the program. The US DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program will be available to families whose income is up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is equivalent to about $45,000 / year for a family of four. Weatherization projects will help low and mid income families save money by making their homes more energy efficient. Historically the average savings will equal about 35 percent for heating bills, and will result in the savings of hundreds of dollars per year on overall heating and energy bills. Illinois will spend an average of $6,500 to weatherize each and every home, so the investment is substantial.

In total, Illinois will use its Recovery Act stimulus funding to weatherize almost 30,000 homes across the state over the next three years, which will reduce energy consumption and also the nations dependence on fossil fuels, all the while creating jobs locally. The federal government funding will help expand the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program, which is administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), an Illinois agency.

Illinois will provide subgrants to about 30 existing local charities and agencies with demonstrated effectiveness in implementing both home weatherization programs and energy audits. Every housing unit in the state that receives weatherization assistance will also receive a final inspection from trained specialists who will ensure that the work was completed properly. In addition, DCEO will conduct random spot checks on subgrantee assessments and they will also perform final inspections.

Under the plan in Illinois, each of the 35 local subgrantees will receive federal funding to train and hire new contractors and employees. DCEO is also using stimulus funds from the Recovery Act funding to add 10 rounds to their existing certification and training programs, and they are also working with the Illinois Community College Board to set up mandatory contractor certification and training programs, all in an effort to make sure all the work is completed properly. These efforts will ensure the necessary, fully trained workforce is in place to carry out weatherization assistance throughout the state of Illinois.






By: Jon McNamara


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