Even though federal funding for home weatherization for low-income Nebraskans increased by 50 percent, fewer people might be eligible for these services because the income levels to qualify for the services changed July 1st.
Income levels are adjusted every year, Pete Davis of the Nebraska Energy Office said, but this year the changes were more significant than usual. According to Davis, the individual household limit changed from $11,167 to $11,075. For a family of four, the limit went from $22,945 to $22,625.
In June, the Energy Office received $2.524 million in annual federal funding for the Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program for the next 12 months. The grant amount was an increase of 50.3 percent over 2001-2002 funding of $1.679 million. In Nebraska in 2001-2002, more than 1,250 homes received free weatherization services.
According to the federal Department of Energy, weatherization provides energy saving home improvements that reduce average energy costs by $218 each year. By improving the energy efficiency of homes, the Weatherization Assistance Program reduces the burden of energy costs for low-income Nebraskans, especially households with elderly residents and people with disabilities and children. Typically, about one-third of the homes that receive weatherization services are occupied by elderly Nebraskans.
There are income limits to be able to receive free weatherization services. The newly revised income limits by family size are on Low Income Weatherization Program Income Limits. What is counted as family income is subject to rules. To find out the specifics on income limits, please contact the weatherization services provider nearest you, or search the state's list of providers at Local contacts.
The federally-funded weatherization program began in 1976 to help low-income families with unpredictable utility bills. The program celebrated its 25th anniversary last fall.
In Nebraska, home weatherization efforts similar to that being done now began in 1978. However, the techniques and type of improvements made in homes have changed dramatically over the decades. More about weatherization in Nebraska can be found at Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program.