linking disaster resistance and energy efficiency: overview » introduction » dual incentives programs
Goal: Make Homes More Resistant to Natural Disasters
Policy: Link Efforts to Improve Disaster Resistance and Energy Efficiency

Create Programs That Provide Incentives for Both Disaster-Resistant and Energy-Efficient Improvements
There are multiple programs that provide financial support and/or incentives to homeowners for either disaster mitigation measures or energy-efficient upgrades. Programs that combine financing and incentives for these two goals may be more cost-effective for both the homeowner and the entity providing support. Subsidy dollars could further serve both purposes at once, and homeowners could save time and money upgrading their homes with disaster-resistant and energy-efficient retrofits at the same time.

Although there are currently no programs in place that explicitly provide financing and / or incentives for both disaster-resistance and energy efficiency in homes, there are some current efforts to develop and implement such programs.

U.S Senator George LeMieux of Florida and other advocates in the state have proposed changes to the Weatherization Assistance Program that would allow for the funding of both energy-efficient and storm-resistant improvements for lower income households. Currently, program funds are only eligible for energy-efficient upgrades. [1]

Advocates have also been working with the current administration and Congress on the new HOME STAR program (also known as "Cash for Caulkers") to include incentives for disaster-resilient improvements and related inspections. This would be in addition to the incentives for energy inspections, audits and energy-efficient improvements that the program already provides.

Specifically, the amended changes include extending rebates to homeowners for measures to reduce the damage from hurricanes, floods, tornados, fires and other disasters. Some of the specific measures that the amendment proposes to cover are strengthening roof attachments, creating water barriers, adding storm shutters and elevating electrical systems. Similar to the current energy efficient rebates, homeowners would be eligible for up to $1,000 per mitigation measure, with the total rebate not to exceed $3,000 per homeowner. [2]

In addition, several affordable housing organizations, including Enterprise Community Partners, have recently advocated for extension of incentives for disaster-resistance and energy efficiency to multifamily housing developments - these programs mainly target single-family homes. The organizations have also encouraged the Administration to incorporate mitigation measures into capital expenditures and financing mechanisms for the development and preservation of affordable housing. [3]

Proposed Changes to the Weatherization Assistance Program

Created by the Energy Conservation and Production Act of 1976 (ECPA) and run by the Department of Energy, the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provides the main source of weatherization funding for households generally earning up to 125 percent of the federal poverty level or 60 percent of the state median income (whichever is greater).

The program was initially designed to fund lower income households funding to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes. Given the linkages between energy-efficient and disaster-resistant home improvements, U.S. Senator George LeMieux of Florida proposed an amendment (S.2818) to the ECPA that would additionally allow incentives for disaster-resistant improvements, so long as they also increase the energy efficiency of homes.

The proposed amendment has received support from multiple advocates and is currently under consideration in the Senate.

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Create programs providing incentives for both disaster-resistant and energy-efficient improvements

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[1] Proposed Amendment to Section 412(9) of the Energy Conservation and Production Act (42 U.S.C. 6862(9))
[2] press release. February 11, 2010.
[3] Letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. February 5, 2010.