Area members of Congress push for funding of weatherization program

Jan 14, 2013

Members of Congress are asking the president to include a federal program to help low-income families insulate their homes in next year's budget. Rep. Dan Maffei says this is especially important in upstate New York, where heating a home can cost hundreds of dollars each year.

Federal funding for a program that weatherizes the homes of low-income families has been cut significantly in recent years. Matthew Redmond of the Energy Efficiency Training Center says about 800 central New York families are on a waiting list for that program.

“There's not enough funds on a yearly basis from the federal government for us to take care of everyone," said Redmond. "It'll be years before we can get around to weatherizing some of these people.”

Redmond says that by insulating and air sealing a home, residents save an average of $400 a year in heating and cooling costs. Many who benefit from the program are the elderly or disabled.

Democratic congressman Dan Maffei, of the Syracuse area, is supporting a request to allocate $210 million of federal funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program.

“This is a district, obviously that is hit by difficult winters, and also one where there's a lot of people that could use the work,” said Maffei.

During a visit to East Syracuse, Maffei said the federal weatherization program also employs skilled workers here in Central New York, another reason he wants the program refunded.

“We were able to put people to work who hadn't been working before, and come up with a way that would save small businesses and people money,” said the congressman.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) supports the funding, and was at last week's event with Maffei. They have also asked that $50 million be allocated towards the State Energy Program in New York, which helps to insulate public buildings.

The state of New York boasts the largest weatherization program in the country.