November 1, 2014

Report says federal weatherization funds have helped Iowa economy

A report by the Iowa Policy Project (I-P-P) says federal money sent to Iowa to help low-income residents upgrade furnaces and weatherize their homes has had a positive impact on the state economy. Molly Fleming of I-P-P wrote the report along with Iowa State University economist David Swenson.

Fleming says Iowa received $81-million for the weatherization program under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). She says they found that ARRA increases total state output, it boosts the incomes of Iowa workers, and it creates and saves jobs for workers statewide.

Fleming says the money helps those who do the weatherization of homes as well as those who manufacture and sell energy-efficient heating systems. And she says it is a boost to the low-income families that have taken part.

Fleming says it eases the burden of high home energy costs, allows them to access expensive energy retrofits that reduce energy bills, and it helps reduce greenhouse gases statewide. “So there’s multiple impacts happening here,” she explains. Fleming says

weatherizing a home on average can reduce their energy bill by three percent and save them about $400. She says the addition of the federal dollars allowed the weatherization of some 7,200 homes, and increase of 76% over the past year.

Fleming says there’s both direct and indirect impact to Iowa’s economy from the weatherization of the homes. She says, “All told, ARRA funding will increase the state output by nearly 49-million dollars in this currentfiscal year, it will boost the incomes of Iowa workers by over $20-millions in this fiscal year, and will create or save 612 jobs in this fiscal year.” The funding is expected to have the same impact in the next fiscal year.

Fleming says the money spent on this program clearly extends beyond the low-income families, as they have more money to spend back into the economy. She says every federal dollar of economic stimulus spent on the program yields about $1.47 in total output for the state, and out of that original dollar — about 61% is returned to Iowa workers in the form of wages, salaries, and incomes to small business owners.

 “So as all these figures show, weatherization funding the recovery act is able to produce a pretty significant ripple in the Iowa economy,” according to Fleming. You can see the entire report on the federal weatherization project at: www.iowapolicyproject.org.