Release: Sanders: Weatherization is a Winner

BURLINGTON, Vt., March 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told a press conference today that significant investments in weatherization will reduce reliance on foreign oil, boost the U.S. economy, help seniors and lower-income Americans, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
 
Vermont has received $16.8 million for weatherization programs as a result of last year’s economic stimulus bill.  The 2009 Recovery Act allotted $5 billion nationwide for weatherproofing apartments and houses over three years.
 
“The good news is that in the last five years more than 7,000 Vermont families have had their homes weatherized.  The bad news is that we still have nearly 1,500 families on the waiting list,” Sanders said.
 
Joining Sanders at the press conference was Agnes Billings, a senior citizen from Barre, who told how her home heating bills were reduced by 40 percent after a weatherization project was completed on their duplex built in 1788. The savings left her and her sister with more in their household budget for other necessities. “Particularly this year when economic times are kind of hard it has been a godsend,” she said. “It not only saves money, it saves lives for a lot of elderly people who need more heat.”
 
Sanders discussed what happens when Vermont workers weatherize a home for a senior or a low-income family.
 
First, on average, the homeowner or resident sees a 20 percent or more reduction in the amount of fuel they use. The average family helped by the weatherization program lowers their energy bill by $350. “That’s a pretty big deal especially in these difficult times,” Sanders said.   
 
Second, when fuel consumption is cut by 20 percent, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by the same amount.  “Every house we weatherize is the equivalent of taking six cars off the road for a year in terms of emissions reduction,” the senator said.
 
Third, we become more energy independent and lessen our dependence on foreign oil. 
 
Fourth, in the midst of recession, we put Vermonters to work doing a very important and meaningful job. For every $1 million we invest in weatherization, we create 75 jobs.
 
“Add all of this up and you have a win-win-win-win situation that has got to be aggressively continued,” Sanders said.
 
Also attending the press conference were Hal Cohen, executive director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council, and Elizabeth Chant, weatherization program director for the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity. 
 
Cohen called Sanders “the national leader, the champion for weatherization assistance programs,” which he said save more than a dollar for every dollar invested. “With state and federal funds, we have become the leader in the country for weatherization programs.”