North Idaho families who face a cold winter in a home with leaky roofs and broken windows and doors may be able to take advantage of a new program dedicated to repairs and weatherization to save energy. 

In 2020, the Idaho Conservation League partnered with the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho (CAPAI) to help create a new source of funding to expand a program to fix such things as leaky roofs and replace missing windows and doors while weatherizing homes in North Idaho. 

ICL and CAPAI secured an initial contribution of $250,000 to pay for health and safety-related weatherization measures in low-income housing in the area served by Avista and Community Action Partnership based in Lewiston.

Low-income housing weatherization programs, like the one operated by each regional Community Action Partnership (CAP), directly benefit Idahoans. The program works by sending a crew out to a qualifying home to assess needed weatherization repairs and improvements. If these repairs and improvements result in more energy savings than the cost to install, then the local CAP can use federal and utility funds for the project.  

But often the crew arrives to find a hole in the roof or a missing window or door. These health and safety-related measures do not deliver direct energy savings so aren’t eligible for traditional funding for weatherization. And because a leaky roof or window means that any energy savings project for the home will likely not have any impact, the agency must walk away leaving the family literally in the cold. 

That’s why ICL negotiated a new fund in 2019 supported by Avista designed to address these types of barriers to unlocking existing energy efficiency funding. Avista contributed $1.6 million to this Energy Efficiency Assistance Fund. A group of stakeholders including ICL, Avista, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission Staff, Clearwater Paper, the Idaho Forest Group, and CAPAI collaborated on proposals to use this new fund. 

In addition to helping with the initial $250,000 directed to this effort last year, ICL looks forward to assisting Community Action Partnership over the next few months to expand the low-income weatherization program in North Idaho. We expect to be able to serve around 30 families that would otherwise not be eligible for traditional energy efficiency funding.  By directly addressing health and safety-related issues in order to access traditional weatherization funding streams, we can help Idahoans enjoy a safe home and save on their energy bills all while protecting our climate.