Biden to Allocate Funding for Energy-Efficient Housing
Amid the ongoing oil crisis and high energy prices, President Biden committed $3.2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed last year to make low-income housing more cost-effective and energy efficient. Upgrades such as adding insulation to attics, replacing leaky windows and doors, and swapping old appliances for more efficient ones, will hopefully cut down on energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions simultaneously. The Administration hopes the funding will reach 450,000 households, a significantly higher number than the current rate of renovations at 38,000 houses per year.
USA Today: Joe Biden responds to rising gas prices with energy plan, March 31, 2022.
Why This Matters
Businesses and homes accounted for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 due to burning fossil fuels for heating or electricity. Through the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) that Biden has committed funding to, the US can hope to radically decrease their homes’ carbon footprint. According to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, consumers can expect to save an average $372 per year with energy-efficient improvements and up to 30% on energy bills. Climate change and global warming are making homes more vulnerable and less efficient, so a rapid transition toward energy efficiency will lessen the cost to the environment and consumers’ wallets.
The Years Project: How Net-Zero Buildings Can Help The Climate Crisis, February 3, 2020.
Equity In The Energy Transition
Equity and the effects of climate change have been a huge topic of discussion when weighing the implications of the energy transition. Studies have found that a timely transition to alternative sources of energy will be more difficult for low-income families and communities of color. Biden’s WAP specifically aims to help low-income communities, but as a federal program, it merely provides funding and leaves states and Native American tribal governments to oversee and manage its implementation. This leaves potential for disparities between states, especially if they don’t consider equity during their energy transitions. States like New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado have all passed legislation ensuring they will be on track to be net zero by 2050, while also paying special attention to community needs, outreach, and engagement that will allow all of its citizens to make the transition together. Federal funding needs to specifically address equity terms when allocating money to states.
TED: Energy justice: who gets listened to? | Erin Baker, August 2, 2021.