MFA Hosts Annual NM Energy$mart Weatherization Day


ALBUQUERQUE, NM—As part of National Weatherization Day—celebrated nationally each year on Oct. 30—New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA) staff and partners highlighted new energy-efficiency upgrades to an Albuquerque home that are expected to generate more than $12,500 in energy cost savings over the lifetime of the measures. The upgrades are also expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 26,460 fewer pounds, a roughly 15 percent reduction from the average.

“Energy-efficiency improvements have a dramatic impact when it comes to comfort and cost savings for many of the most vulnerable New Mexico families,” said MFA Executive Director and CEO Isidoro Hernandez. “The Energy$mart program has helped more than 10,500 New Mexico families since 2010, providing hundreds of dollars in energy cost savings each year and helping to improve health and safety.”

The event was hosted by MFA at the Barelas Community Center and featured remarks from program partners, funders and service providers. The energy-efficiency upgrades included: attic, duct, pipe and wall insulation, air sealing, window replacements, replacement of the cooling system, low flow showerheads, a new efficient furnace, water heater repairs, a high efficiency heating system and duct sealing.

All repairs were provided free-of-charge to the homeowner through the program. In addition, the home also received a new roof and ceiling repairs as part of a new emergency repair program. 

After the presentation, guests toured the home alongside staff from Central NM Housing Corp – MFA’s weatherization service provider in Northern New Mexico – to highlight areas of the house which received energy efficiency upgrades. The home previously had very little attic insulation, so most of heat generated by the primary heat source, a wood stove, escaped through holes in the roof and walls, windows and ceiling. The evaluation of the home prior to the upgrades noted that the faulty furnace frequently left the homeowner without heating and holes throughout the home were equivalent in size to a total of 81 basketballs.

Gonzales, who lives alone on a fixed income of about $710 a month, pays an average of $155 a month in utility bills. When the weatherization work is complete later this week, she is expected to reduce her utility costs to about $75 a month. Families whose homes are weatherized save an average of 34 percent in utility costs every year for 20 to 25 years.

“I had no idea how much heat I was losing through my roof,” Gonzales said. “I did know my bills were high and I was always cold.”

Low-income households spend an estimated 14 percent of their income on utility bills, compared to middle-income households that only spend about 4 percent of their income on utilities. The higher percentage of income spent on utilities often means lower-income families are often forced to choose between buying necessities like food and medicine or paying their utility bills.

According to a 2020 report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), low-income households—those with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level— spent 8.1 percent of their income on energy costs, on average, compared to 2.3 percent for non-low-income households. The report also found that home weatherization can reduce the energy burdens of low-income households by an estimated 25 percent.

Since 1997, MFA has administered the NM Energy$mart, which is a Department of Energy program. Funding for the program is also provided by Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, NM Gas Company and PNM.

Households earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or $55,500 for a family of four, are eligible for NM Energy$mart.  Preference is given to households with high energy burden, children under the age of 5, people over 60 years of age and to individuals with disabilities.

The New Mexico Energy$mart program is part of the nationwide Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). WAP operates in all states and territories and has been administered and funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) since 1976.

2022 marks the 46th anniversary of WAP, which, to date, has weatherized more than 7.4 million low-income homes and reduced energy bills by $250 – $450 annually, according to the National Association for State and Community Services Programs (NASCSP) website.

The NASCSP website also noted that residents of weatherized units report fewer colds and headaches, fewer hospitalizations, days of school or work missed, and fewer doctor visits. These health and safety benefits, when factored into the energy efficiency cost savings, provided program participants with a return of $2.78 for every dollar invested in the WAP.