Each year, federal and state governments, nonprofit organizations, and utilities offer financial assistance for weatherizing tens of thousands of U.S. homes. And your home might be eligible.

Weatherizing your home – by sealing leaks, improving insulation, and the like – saves energy by reducing drafts. It can make your home more comfortable and reduce your utility expenses. And by helping you avoid wasted energy consumption, weatherization reduces your household’s contribution to global warming.

Read on for the basics on low-income weatherization assistance from federal, state, and other programs – and how eligible households can apply.

1. Meet the agencies offering weatherization funding

The nation’s largest weatherization assistance program is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program.

Since 1976, the program has been providing eligible low-income households with energy-efficiency improvement services. It also offers assistance for low-income people who are elderly, have a disability, or have children living in the home.The program provides weatherization improvements and upgrades to roughly 35,000 homes annually. Households that receive assistance through the program go on to save an average of $283 every year.

But other avenues exist, too.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps eligible low-income households meet short-term home heating and cooling needs, which some states leverage to provide weatherization services that will reduce a home’s energy bills.

States also have their own programs, which generally include tapping into Weatherization Assistance Program funding but often encompass other initiatives, too. For example, California’s Low-Income Weatherization Program includes a program that makes energy-efficiency improvements at no cost to qualified farmworker households.

In addition to state and federal programs, some nonprofits and utilities also offer energy-savings assistance that incorporates weatherization activities. Energy Outreach Colorado, for example, offers weatherization services. On the utility front, PG&E in California and Oncor Electric in Texas are among those offering weatherization support for low-income households. Check with your local utility to learn about programs that may be available in your area.

2. Learn what the programs offer

The Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program and other weatherization programs provide a range of energy efficiency and weatherization services, including:

  • Sealing leaks, holes, and gaps around doors, windows, and pipes
  • Checking that homes are effectively insulated
  • Repairing or upgrading windows
  • Inspecting heating and air conditioning systems
  • Repairing or replacing water heaters

3. Find out if you’re eligible

You may be eligible for weatherization services through the Weatherization Assistance Program if your household’s income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level ($4,291.67 per month or less for a family of four in most states, for example) or if your household receives Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The Weatherization Assistance Program prioritizes individuals who are at least 60 years old, households with one or more member with a disability, and families with children. For LIHEAP, eligible households include those at or below 60% of state-median income. States may have additional eligibility requirements.

To find out if you’re eligible for federal weatherization funding for low-income persons, use the tool at the bottom of this website.

4. Apply for low-income weatherization funding

To apply for federal funding and also learn more about your state-specific offerings, check this Department of Energy map, then click through to your state’s weatherization or energy assistance web page.

Though each state’s website is different, you’ll generally find information about the types of services that may be available, and how to apply. Some states provide an online application, but many direct you to apply with local providers. Illinois residents, for instance, apply to a local representative based on their county of residence.

In addition to filling out the relevant form, applicants also will need to provide proof of income, typically in the form of pay stubs or social security payment documentation over the past year. Renters will need to get permission from their landlord before services can begin.

5. What to do once you’ve been selected

If your household is selected for weatherization services through the Weatherization Assistance Program, your local provider will schedule and perform an energy audit to assess your home’s energy use, including analyzing energy bills, testing for outside air infiltration into the home, and inspecting energy equipment for potential health and safety issues.

From there, the energy auditor will provide recommendations, and a work crew will come out for a day or two to complete the work.

6. Recognize signs of a potential scam

Some identity thieves target victims by contacting people out of the blue to offer them money from the federal government. Check Grants.gov for the signs of a potential scammer – such as a phone call or email that begins with “Great news! You are eligible to receive a government grant.” The site also explains how to report fraud if you think you may have been the victim of a government grant scam.

For eligible households, participating in a weatherization program for low-income homes can help you protect your home, save money, and contribute to a brighter climate future – one simple home improvement at a time.

Also see: Tips: How to weatherize your home

Daisy Simmons

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...