October 30th marks the 46th annual celebration of National Weatherization Day—an event that highlights the impact of the Weatherization Assistance Program, one of the core programs administered by Opportunity Council. The critical services provided by Opportunity Council help improve the efficiency, durability, health, and safety of the places people call home while also helping our community shift to a clean energy economy.

It should come as no surprise that the costs of heating and cooling a home are significant household expenses for many families. Over 20 percent of households have reported reducing or forgoing necessities such as food and medicine to pay an energy bill. Weatherizing homes to improve their efficiency helps lower utility bills, which helps families afford other household necessities.

We know that energy insecurity hits some groups much harder than others: low-income families are more likely to live in homes with heating problems and inadequate insulation. Rural areas like East Whatcom County and parts of Island County also often have a much higher energy burden than non-rural communities.

Personal & Environmental Health

Weatherization not only helps people by keeping the heat on and making sure families can make ends meet, but services that improve ventilation and efficiency also have lasting health impacts. Improving air quality and temperature regulation within a home has been found to reduce household out-of-pocket medical expenses by $514 a year, on average.

The program has lasting impacts not just on the health and well-being of individual households but also on the climate resiliency that impacts communities locally and around the globe. Weatherization projects, as well as home repair, conservation education, and home energy audits provided by Opportunity Council’s Building Performance Center and the Community Energy Challenge help households improve efficiency and reduce overall carbon emissions.

The History of Weatherization Programs

Created in 1976 by The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Weatherization Assistance Program helps low-income families lacking resources to invest in energy efficiency. Born out of the oil crisis of the 1970s, the Weatherization Assistance Program has become the nation’s largest whole-house home energy upgrade program. The program (which also includes the Tribal Weatherization Program) helps households throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Native American tribes, and in all U.S. territories. The program supports 8,500 jobs and provides weatherization services to approximately 35,000 homes every year using DOE funds.

Weatherization services include installing insulation, reducing drafts, improving ventilation, and helping maintain system maintenance. Services are free for qualifying households. For more information, please call (360) 734-5121 x 1020 or email coned@nulloppco.org.