Michigan eligible for $183 million to make low-income homes more energy efficient

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — Michigan is eligible to receive up to $183.2 million to make low-income households more energy efficient through funding announced Wednesday by the White House and the Department of Energy. 

The money is part of $3.1 billion for weatherization approved as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law last year. It can be used to retrofit homes to update heating and cooling systems, improve electrical appliances, install insulation and more.

"For some people that may seem like small changes. But actually they make a very big and immediate impact, saving families hundreds to thousands of dollars per year," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a press call Wednesday.

Most families who retrofit their homes through the program see savings of around 20% to 30% per year, she said.

At least 40% of the funding should go to disadvantaged communities, according to a White House fact sheet. Around $151.2 million of Michigan's funding can go directly to updating homes, while $31.9 million is reserved for training and technical assistance. 

The program has been in place since 1976 and usually updates around 38,000 homes every year, Granholm said. The additional funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law will make it possible to improve more than 450,000 homes. 

On average, just over 1,500 homes in Michigan per year have been retrofitted through the Weatherization Assistance Program. Granholm said the new funding is 10 times what is usually spent on the program. 

All projects will be required to use American-made construction materials such as iron and steel, if possible, and states and territories will be asked to prioritize families that are spending a significant portion of their income on energy. 

Every project approved for the program will start with an "energy audit" to find ways to improve efficiency, said White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, and will be conducted by local contractors. 

"This is about saving money, it's about healthier living conditions, it's about a better environment," said White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu. "And it means we're using it to create good-paying jobs in every corner of America."

rbeggin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @rbeggin