October 30th is National Weatherization Day—a day that’s meant to highlight the impact of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which saves energy and improves the health and safety of homes.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) WAP was created in 1976 to assist low-income families who lacked resources to invest in energy efficiency. Borne out of the oil-crisis of the 1970s, WAP has become the nation’s largest whole-house home energy upgrade program. The program operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Native American tribes, and U.S. Territories. The program supports 8,500 jobs and provides weatherization services to approximately 35,000 homes every year using DOE funds.
Funds are used to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes using the most advanced technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry. Since 1976, WAP has weatherized over 7.4 million homes across the nation.
While WAP has been around for more than 40 years, weatherization’s importance has been particularly in the spotlight this election season. Presidential candidate Joe Biden even used the term “weatherize” more than once during the first presidential debate while outlining his plan to address climate change.
But we’re not just fighting the impacts of climate change. This year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting homes and buildings from outdoor elements and respiratory droplets in particular is even more crucial. As the world has been told to social distance, there are some things that require gathering—things like submitting a ballot in a presidential election.
For these reasons, the Building Performance Association has launched our own program to optimize ventilation and increase airflow in polling places this Election Day. BPA’s Healthy Voting Initiative provides resources to contractors and energy auditors that allows them to use the weatherization tools they already at their disposal to create safe and healthy voting spaces across the country.
When on-site at polling places, BPA contractors and energy auditors can use a blower door, which increases air exchange and limits the build-up of concentrations of any indoor contaminant. As any home performance contractor knows, the blower door is synonymous with weatherizing homes. In fact, blower door tests are performed on every home before and after weatherization work is completed, as it helps to assess the effectiveness of work that’s been done.
Blower doors can make polling places safer, and many of our members are already equipped with the tools to help their communities. We here at BPA support WAP year-round, and know the critical role the program plays during COVID-19, and in the future.
Learn more about WAP here: https://www.energy.gov/eere/wap/weatherization-assistance-program
Learn more about our Healthy Voting Initiative here: https://www.building-performance.org/news-and-resources/news/healthy-voting-initiative-reduces-risk-covid-19-transmission-election-day