Weatherization Program Provided $9.4 Million in Health, Safety and Energy Efficiency Products from 2017-2022 According to Economic Impact Report

Program Aims to Improve Economic Stability, Achieve Community-Wide Savings and Safety, and Reduce County's Impact on the Environment

Nearly 20,000 Franklin County residents have been helped by MORPC’s Weatherization Program since its inception and received $9.4 million in free products from 2017-2022, according to a recent Community Impact Report released by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). The report details the impact in Franklin County of the decades-long weatherization program which aims to improve the economic stability of households, achieve community-wide savings, improve safety for residents, and reduce the impact by the county on the environment.

Since 1988, MORPC has provided in-kind energy efficiency (weatherization) and safety services to low-income Franklin County households to increase their energy efficiency and safety. This Weatherization Program is designed to offer no-cost services to qualifying residents—those who are either homeowners or rent homes in Franklin County, and whose total household income during the preceding 12 months is equal to or less than 150–200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

From 2017–2022, MORPC and partners Columbia Gas of Ohio, Ohio Department of Development, AEP Ohio, and ENERGY STAR, have invested an estimated $5.1 million on health and safety, plus an additional $4.3 million in energy efficiency—all on parts and equipment that remain in the homes

“Weatherization is often overlooked in its importance to providing affordable housing. Reducing a families’ home energy costs can play a big role in allowing families to stretch budgets further. There is also a health and safety aspect that is often unacknowledged. When families have older mechanics such as furnaces and hot water tanks that may have gas leaks or are unsafe, our program identifies and repairs or replaces those items. These inspections and safety checks help keep some of our most vulnerable residents safe and healthy.”

Low-income households spend an average of 16.3 percent of their annual income on energy costs, compared to 3.5 percent for other households. What’s more, this imbalance of in­come-to-energy cost forces low-income families to sacrifice when it comes to other essential needs, such as health care, medicine, food, and childcare, directly impacting families’ ability to thrive. In Franklin County, this imbalance disproportionately impacts minority households.

In addition to direct savings in energy usage, a national evaluation from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Program found that weatherization of a home has non-energy benefits to families as well. According to this evaluation, program participants’ homes were healthier and more livable, resulting in fewer missed days of work and out-of-pocket savings for health care, averaging $514 per household.

“The ongoing value for clients receiving MORPC’s home weatherization services is very high. It is estimated that eligible households are expected to save an average of $8,500 on direct and indirect costs, within ten years of receiving service. Of those savings, 40 percent or more directly resulted from the reduced consumption of greenhouse gas emitting fuels, which at scale, becomes a significant benefit for the broader community and the environment.”

As Central Ohio continues to grow, programs such as this will be critical to the quality of life in the region. By lowering the demand for natural gas, suppliers’ rates for the overall community go down. The U.S Department of Energy estimated in 2015 that for every $1 invested in their Weatherization Program, $2.78 in non-energy benefits was returned to the community, based on spurred economic growth and reducing the environmental impact of these homes.

“This program doesn’t just make financial sense, it contributes positively to our sustainability goals, making the region a healthier, more livable community for everyone."

Based on reports from the U.S. Department of Energy, The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, and Weatherization experts at MORPC, the estimated range of natural gas savings for a household participating in the weatherization program is 18 to 25 percent. Using these estimates and the average natural gas usage by household from 2017–2022, it’s estimated that if MORPC serves an average of 500 households a year, the amount of carbon dioxide prevented from polluting the atmosphere is equivalent to removing 85 to 118 personal vehicles from Columbus roads each year.

Read the full Community Impact Report. Learn more about MORPC’s Home Energy Efficiency Services and the Home Repair Services online, or call 614-621-1171.

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Melissa Rapp

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