If you're anything like me, these winter months have you thinking more about your utility bills than usual. And for good reason: As we turn up our thermostats to make up for the cold weather, most Americans tend to see an uptick in home energy use, raising the cost of utility bills during the coldest months of the year (which we're unfortunately experiencing now here in the Northern Hemisphere).
It's reasons like these that we're always thinking about energy efficiency here at the Energy Department -- and constantly working to find ways to help families save money by saving energy. That's why we're proud to announce the Department's Weatherization Assistance Program has supported the weatherization of over 750 thousand homes, including more than 600 thousand homes through the Recovery Act, over the past three years.
Secretary Chu has joined with governors and members of Congress across the country to mark this milestone and talk about what it means for American families. On Thursday, the Secretary was joined on the phone with Governor Schweitzer of Montana, where the weatherization program has helped more than 6,800 Big Sky families improve the energy efficiency of their homes over the last three years. Washington Governor Gregoire also joined the Secretary yesterday to announce that Washington State surpassed its Recovery Act goals and weatherized more than 16,000 homes. Today Secretary Chu spoke with Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, where more than 30,500 families have received weatherization help from the state. In these states -- and many others across the nation -- the weatherization program is saving the average household $400 a year on their utility bills.
These energy efficiency upgrades include adding insulation, sealing ducts, and installing more efficient windows, heaters, and cooling systems -- and are lowering energy bills for low-income families across the country, supporting economic growth and creating jobs.
"The investment we've made over the last three years is paying huge dividends across the country," said Secretary Chu. "Not only has it put Americans to work, it has helped families save money by saving energy. It is a win-win for the whole country."
In addition to helping families save energy and money, the program has also helped train thousands of workers across the country and has spurred the demand for energy-efficient technologies and products.
On average, the program reduces energy consumption for low-income families by up to 35 percent, saving them more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.
While the Weatherization Assistance Program is limited to lower-income families, most families can save on their utility bills by taking some simple, affordable steps like using more efficient light bulbs, sealing drafty cracks around doors and windows, or using a programmable thermostat. Larger upgrades can save families even more and will more than pay for themselves over time. You can learn more at energysavers.gov.
The Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Visit the Weatherization Assistance Program website to learn more about our efforts to enable low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.