Stimulus money goes to weatherization

Reader Contribution by Ramsey Cox

On Monday Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu announced the release of $80 million more of the $5 billion designated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for weatherization programs.

Four states’ proposals were approved for increased weatherization projects. Arizona received $22.8 million, Kansas got $22.5 million, Mississippi was approved for $19.7 million and Oregon was awarded $15.4 million.

The weatherization programs create new jobs through training and construction projects, but they also make building and homes more energy efficient. Most of the state proposals were for weatherization of homes for the elderly, handicapped and those below the poverty line. In total more than 22,300 homes will be weatherized with the $80 million in these four states.

Money for weatherization was given out in the first wave of stimulus money three months ago. This is the first time more southern states, such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, have received money for weatherization. Past government weatherization programs have been for cooler states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts for heating insulation, but now more money is being given to warmer states to increase the efficiency of air-conditioning.

The New York Times reported that under the traditional past government formulas hot-climate states would have received 16 percent of the weatherization fund. This time hot-climate states received nearly twice as much with 31 percent of the government funds, leaving less for cold-climate states.

The federal Energy Information Administration said the United States spends twice as much on heating as on cooling, which means more energy is consumed heating homes than cooling them. This has caused some debate as to whether the goal of the program is really energy conservation or jobs creation in the neediest areas of the country. Either way, more money for weatherization means less energy consumption.

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