LIHU‘E — Last week, U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono announced that the state of Hawai‘i will receive $3,641,796 in federal funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which provides grants for households with low incomes to save money by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.
The funding comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last year, and can be used for improvements such as installing insulation, upgrading heating and cooling systems, replacing inefficient appliances and more.
The announcement comes amid rising energy prices in Hawai‘i due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which continues to drive up the international cost of oil.
“With the highest energy costs of any state in the country, it has always been a real financial burden for families with low incomes in Hawai‘i to keep their homes comfortable and safe,” Hirono said in a news release.
”Given our reliance on oil for power, these costs are only continuing to rise, making it that much harder for families to pay their utility bills,” said Hirono.
“Thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, some much-needed relief is on the way,” she said. “Hawai‘i will receive over $3 million to help working families improve the energy efficiency of their homes and lower their costs while reducing carbon emissions in our communities. I’ll continue working to reduce our dependence on oil and move Hawai‘i toward our goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2045.”
Originally created in 1976, WAP provides weatherization services to approximately 35,000 homes every year.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, households receiving WAP support save an average of $283 in annual energy costs.
These savings are especially significant for the households with low incomes that the program serves, who spend an estimated 13.9% of their income on energy costs, as opposed to just 3% for other households.
Even before the spike in oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hawai‘i had the highest electricity costs of any state in the country at 27.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, nearly three times the national average of 10.59 cents.
In Hawai‘i, weatherization services are administered at the county level, and overseen by the Hawai‘i Office of Community Services.
Source: The Garden Island