Texas getting $173 million in home weatherization funds
Michael De Young has seen the power of home weatherization to improve the lives of Texans. As Community Affairs Division Director for the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), Michael is responsible for distributing federal funds to help low income Texans save money on their energy bills by retrofitting their homes with more energy efficient technologies, such as insulation and more efficient heating and air conditioning systems.
One recipient was an elderly man in Houston who was paying $130 a month in air conditioning costs to cool down a 600-650 square foot apartment. The prohibitive costs of running his AC forced a number of difficult decisions. He couldn’t always afford food, and he used his diabetes medication sparingly. But after his apartment was weatherized, his monthly electric bills dropped from $130 to only $40. With the financial strain lifted, he no longer had to be frugal with food or medicine. The change also gave him some disposable income, as he was now, for the first time ever, able to buy birthday gifts for his grandchildren.
Millions of Texans live in poorly insulated homes, leading to significant wasted energy and pollution as well as high energy bills or even death in the case of extreme heat or cold, as during Winter Storm Uri.
Many more Texans will benefit from this program thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law – the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – passed in November 2021. As a result of the law, Texas is getting $173 million in funding through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) for residential energy updates. Since 2010, Texas has received $62.1 million from the WAP, weatherizing almost 11,000 homes. So this is a huge increase in funding, to be expended over the course of the next five years.
Texas has the largest energy efficiency potential of any state and could reduce statewide energy use by almost 19% – that would dramatically reduce the strain on the electric grid on weeks like this. With this additional funding, the WAP program can have a dramatic impact on household energy use and deliver real benefits for Texans, including cleaner air to breathe, a more livable climate, a more reliable electric grid and more manageable energy bills.
This was co-written by Environment Texas intern Ross Crow.
Executive Director, Environment Texas
As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation, renewable energy and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.