By James R. Jolin
Weatherization serves as an important yet strikingly neglected tool not only to meet vulnerable communities’ energy needs, but also to combat the negative health effects associated with the climate crisis.
In the United States, households with lower gross income experience higher “energy burdens” — that is, the proportion of a household’s income that is expended to meet energy costs. Indeed, households earning 200% of the federal poverty line spend an estimated 8% of their income on meeting energy costs, as compared to the national median of 3%. Weatherization, the catch-all term for home improvements intended to improve the efficiency of home energy use, is a way to decrease disparate energy costs across socioeconomic classes.
Standard weatherization measures, which include (but are not limited to) repairing and modernizing temperature control systems and installing insulation, reduce the amount of money households need to spend on heating and cooling. In all, weatherization measures save over $280 on average per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy — a modest but nonetheless important savings.
Crucially, however, weatherization also confers significant health benefits, which are not only ideal in their own right, but also result in further significant financial savings.