Natural disasters are unavoidable occurrences worldwide. But, studies have shown that as the earth’s temperature continues to rise the impact on the environment and weather patterns will become less predictable and more severe. However, proactive measures could reduce the frequency, intensity and unpredictability of extreme weather events, like hurricanes and tornadoes, in the decades to come.
Cutting emissions is part of the long-term solution. In the meantime, there is a great deal that can be done to mitigate damage in the form of weatherization infrastructure. This refers to the idea of outfitting areas of the country that are hotspots for severe weather with increased fortification.
Upgrades come in many forms, but one that is talked about with less frequency than cement walls and four-inch windows is energy efficiency. The more efficiently our households utilize energy from the grid, the more energy we have to spare in the event of a disaster.
As announced this month, the state of West Virginia is getting a sizable boost to its weatherization fund. Through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, brought about with leadership from both Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Sen. Joe Manchin, the state is now eligible for nearly $30 million in grant money through the Department of Energy (DOE). The money will be used to improve energy efficiency statewide.
Sen. Manchin said the announcement “is welcome news for West Virginia. This latest investment from our bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act helps families across our state make energy efficiency improvements to their homes to ensure they can keep their homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer while cutting costs on their energy bills.”
His fellow West Virginia senator, Sen. Capito added, “It’s great to see West Virginia continuing to receive ample support and resources as a result of the bipartisan infrastructure law. As I was helping to negotiate and craft this legislation last year, providing West Virginians the tools needed to live better, healthier lives was always a priority, and this funding will help do just that. I’m proud to announce these investments, and I look forward to seeing the impact this will have in communities across our state.”
The cash infusion will come as part of the DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program. This initiative was created in 1976 as a way of helping lower-income residents without the means to make their homes energy-efficient. The program is hugely successful, with every dollar invested generating an average return of $4.50 in terms of savings and resulting economic growth. This new $28 million is just the latest investment in West Virginia for weatherization, following the nearly $35 million in total funds given to the state since 2010.