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Weatherization plan covers solar, efficiency tech

The federally funded home weatherization program aimed at low-income families is no longer just about caulk and insulation.

The federally funded weatherization program has been expanded to cover comprehensive home energy retrofits, rather than only traditional energy audits.

The Department of Energy on Thursday announced that is has been funded with an additional $120 million and that participating energy service providers have weatherized 31,600 homes in the U.S. as of June.

A blower door test which measures air leaks is part of a comprehensive home energy efficiency audit.
A blower door test which measures air leaks is part of a comprehensive home energy efficiency audit. Martin LaMonica/CNET

Of that total, $90 million is being made available to home efficiency providers to offer installation of on-site solar power, efficient appliances, and home energy monitoring tools.

Traditionally, home weatherization providers do an audit of consumers' homes and recommend ways to save energy through air sealing, more efficient lighting, or added insulation.

Among the awards are companies who expect to install a number of efficiency-related technologies, including geothermal heating and cooling systems, solar hot water systems, cool roofs for mobile homes, tankless hot water heaters, high-tech aerogel insulation, and on-site wind turbines.

The weatherization program, which was first funded as part of the federal stimulus program last year, is primarily aimed at low-income families who qualify for rebates and incentives.

Home efficiency contractors are hoping for passage of the Home Star program which will make rebates available for energy-retrofit projects to households of all income levels. The program is structured around different efficiency levels--silver and gold--where homeowners receive higher rebates based on the level of energy reductions, which are measured.