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State's low income weatherization program expands to multi-family housing

Dennis Schroeder
National Renewable Energy Lab
A technician installs insulation in an attic

Michigan is expanding its program that provides energy-efficient home upgrades for low-income residents.

The program will include energy efficiency upgrades for multi-family housing now, as well as single family homes.

Maddy Kamalay is the weatherization manager for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

She said low-income people often struggle with very high energy bills, often because they live in older buildings.

She says it's a similar process to weatherize a single family home and a multi-family building.

"Things that are our primary energy savers in general in weatherization are air sealing - so reducing air leakage from the inside of the home to the outside of the home - and insulation. You would be surprised to find out how little insulation some buildings in Michigan have," she said.

Other upgrades can include furnace and refrigerator replacement.

To be eligible, the weatherization project has to primarily benefit the renters, not the owner of the unit.

The state's weatherization program has an annual budget around $22 million, and this year, there is an additional one-time appropriation of $183 million.

Kamalay says the funding may make it possible to weatherize hundreds of units every year over the next five to ten years.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.