Federal Grant Will Help Lower Memphis' High Energy Burden With County-Wide Home Weatherization Repairs

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The city's Division of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will weatherize at least 90 more homes than originally planned in FY18 as a part of its Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).

This comes as a result of a near $650,000 grant from the Federal Department of Energy.

Chad Bowman, HCD's manager of the weatherization program, says the program is a necessity in the city, citing a 2016 study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy that found Memphis has the highest energy burden in the country. With residents spending on average about 13 percent of their annual income on energy costs, Memphis' energy burden is nearly 10 percent above the national average.

Bowman adds that the majority of those residents live in low-income neighborhoods, but still spend a large percentage of their incomes on gas and electricity to heat and cool their homes.

He says the purpose of the weatherization program, created in the previous fiscal year, but just now ready to launch, is to "promote energy-efficient homes" and lower the energy burden of Shelby County so that ultimately home owners can save money.

The program is aimed to assist low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals, as well as families with children.

Some of the weatherization repairs to be done include sealing spaces around windows and doors to reduce outside airflow and HVAC system tune-ups. In addition, the program will address safety concerns, like replacing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.

However, Bowman says "WAP is not a home repair program," so it will not address structural issues, like roofs and floors.

But, because the weatherization program is a piece of a larger effort by HCD to move toward "growing healthy homes," it will also focus on improving air quality inside of the homes.

The program is open on a first-come, first-served basis to income-eligible applicants county-wide.

Bowman says HCD will likely receive more funds after Sept. 30, enabling it to weatherize additional homes.


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