Weatherization Assistance for Low-Income Seniors
During the height of summer, it's easy to end up running the AC unit all day long. Reducing internal heat and humidity in the home is important for seniors, who can be more susceptible to swings of temperature and temperature extremes. But since every degree lower on the thermostat can result in exponentially higher electric charges, summertime home cooling can really hit the pocketbook hard. If you're a senior on a fixed income, this means that the hottest months of the year -- such as July and August -- can cut uncomfortably deep into other parts of your budget. The good news is that Virginia offers several federal and local programs that can help seniors on low or fixed incomes weatherize homes at low costs, which can save hundreds of dollars in utility bills per year.
There are many ways to cut down on electrical costs while keeping a cool home. But one of the best and most long-lasting ways -- though one of the most work-intensive and expensive -- is insulating your home and upgrading your equipment. For most seniors, purchasing a new HVAC unit and paying to having the attic and crawlspaces insulated is not an option. But with federal assistance, you can fix many of the worst energy offenders in your home, whether that be poor insulation, old cooling equipment, a leaky roof, unsealed windows, or any other inefficient structure.
Here are two federal programs available in Virginia:
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP is a federally-funded program that is managed individually by each state. LIHEAP can help pay for equipment installation, insulation, air sealing, and safety tests.
According to Benefits.gov:
The Virginia Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is comprised of four components: Fuel Assistance, Crisis Assistance, Cooling Assistance and Weatherization. The Virginia Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists low-income households, particularly those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy.
Benefits.gov has a table listing maximum eligible income levels. See if you qualify here.
Eligibility follows the same lines as Medicaid, so if you're eligible for Medicaid, you will most likely be eligible for LIHEAP.
Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
WAP is another federal program that can help seniors with all kinds of weatherization services. WAP services can address heating and cooling issues, insulation, and energy safety.
In Loudoun County, WAP services are provided by Community Housing Partners (CHP).
Our Energy Solutions team completes a site-specific energy audit of a home that includes blower-door-directed air leakage diagnostics, heating system safety and efficiency diagnostics, duct leakage diagnostics, and insulation needs. Following the energy audit, CHP's weatherization team performs repairs and improvements to home heating and cooling systems and provides for the installation of energy-saving measures in the house, such as improved insulation and air sealing.
CHP covers these Northern Virginia counties: Counties: Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Stafford, and Warren
They can be contacted at 540-665-0200, ext. 5103.
You can also write CHP on their website to see if you qualify.
In addition to federal programs, there are also three programs specific to Loudoun County that help with weatherization or other home improvement services.
Loudoun County-Specific Programs
- The Emergency Home Repair and Accessibility Grant Program (EHRA)
- The Loudoun County Home Improvement Program (LCHIP)
- The Loudoun County Home Revitalization Program (LCHRP)
More information about these services can be found on the Loudoun County local government website.
Each of these programs is designed to help seniors in need, and the income cut-offs are often set at generously high levels. Check out a few and see if you qualify. You may be able to save some serious cash on heating and cooling this year!