Low-Income Usage Reduction Programs
The federal government, state governments, regulatory bodies, and utility companies manage usage reduction programs that provide home weatherization and energy efficiency services to low-income households. The aim of these programs is to reduce energy usage and increase the affordability of energy bills. APPRISE’s research and evaluation assesses the efficiency and effectiveness of these usage reduction programs.
Low-Income Usage Reduction Program Evaluation Activities
Needs Assessment includes analysis of program data, customer data, and publicly available data. These analyses provide information on the number of customers who are eligible for the program, the energy usage of eligible customers, and the potential energy savings from the program.
Technical Assistance includes reviews of program models and research results that may inform program design, development of budgeting and planning spreadsheets, and recommendations for data needed for comprehensive program evaluation.
Process Evaluation includes reviews of program documents, interviews with program staff, observation of service delivery, and inspection of completed services.
Impact Evaluation includes analysis of usage, billing, and payment data to estimate the impact of energy efficiency services on energy usage, energy affordability, and bill coverage rates. Impact analysis utilizes techniques including data attrition analysis, weather normalization, and comparison groups to provide robust assessments of program impacts.
Survey Research includes telephone and mail surveys of program participants and telephone and mail surveys of service delivery staff. The customer surveys assess customer understanding of program services and benefits, barriers to program participation, changes in energy usage behavior, persistence of energy measures, and program satisfaction. Service delivery staff surveys measure contractor understanding of program procedures, adherence to program procedures, and barriers to successful program implementation.
Data Tracking includes analysis of data needed for program management, operations, and evaluation; reviews of existing data systems and how they facilitate the program; and recommendations for data tracking enhancements. Program managers need to understand program accomplishments compared to goals, aggregate program expenditures and expenditures per home, and savings projections compared to goals. Program implementers need to obtain energy usage data on targeted customers and report information on home conditions and services delivered. Evaluators need pre- and post-usage data, home condition data, and information on services delivered.
Performance Measurement includes development and measurement of indices that correspond to program goals and objectives. For example, the indices may include program participation rates for segments of the eligible population, incidence of various measures such as two-for-one refrigerator replacement, percentage of pre-program usage saved, or the savings to investment ratio achieved by the program.
Economic Analysis is the measurement of the program’s impact on the economic activity in the state, region, or nation. Energy efficiency investments may have a greater impact on economic activity than other potential investments because they are labor intensive and a large portion of the expenditures are made within the local area. Information on the economic impacts of a usage reduction program is often reported to policymakers and government officials.