RESEARCH AREAS – Low-Income Usage Reduction 2017-08-16T15:27:52+00:00

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.

APPRISE Low-Income Usage Reduction Program Research and Evaluation

AmerenUE partnered with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Energy Center and other utilities to provide weatherization services to low-income households through the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP). The goal of the program is to provide energy efficient improvements to low-income customers to reduce their utility bills and help them prepare for the heating and cooling seasons. APPRISE conducted a process and impact evaluation of the weatherization program. The goals of this research were to assess the effectiveness of the program and to identify opportunities for program improvement.
APPRISE was a subcontractor to Research Into Action on the California Low-Income Energy Efficiency (LIEE) Program Process Evaluation. The CA LIEE provides no-cost energy services to low-income households including attic insulation, energy efficient refrigerators, energy efficient furnaces, weather stripping, caulking, low-flow showerheads, water heater blankets, and door and building envelope repairs. The Process Evaluation focused on client recruitment and enrollment, program coordination, and efficiency of program delivery and implementation. APPRISE was responsible for in-depth interviews with implementation contractors.
APPRISE developed information on the energy needs of California’s low-income utility customers using public data sets including the Current Population Survey and the 2000 Census. The study results will be used to set policy for the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program and the Low-Income Energy Efficiency (LIEE) Program.
APPRISE conducted an evaluation of California’s Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes and Multi-Family Affordable Solar Homes programs. The programs provide solar incentives to customers of three investor-owned utilities in California. The programs aim to stimulate the adoption of solar power in affordable housing, improve the quality of affordable housing, increase energy affordability for low-income households, and increase awareness and knowledge of the benefits of solar power among affordable housing occupants and developers. As a subcontractor in this research, APPRISE conducted interviews with the program administrators and conducted surveys with participating homeowners, participating building managers, and nonparticipating building managers.
Colorado’s Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation implemented new energy efficiency initiatives in 2006 to improve the energy efficiency of low-income homes. The initiatives include a First Response Program to provide low-cost, cost-effective energy efficiency measures and education and an E$P Plus Initiative to provide heating system and other appliance replacement. APPRISE provided evaluation research on these new programs and additional research on Colorado’s ongoing E$P weatherization services.
The State of Colorado has made funding available for a number of energy initiatives. One of those initiatives is the Mass Distribution of Energy Efficiency Services. Under this initiative, the State of Colorado contracted with local community based organizations (CBOs) to provide energy saving devices and/or energy education services to low-income households. APPRISE assisted Colorado’s Governor’s Office of Energy Management and Conservation in identifying service delivery models and vendors that have proven track records for successful program implementation; determining data needs for short-term assessments and long-term impact analysis; and developing a framework for service delivery agencies to develop an effective program design, prepare a responsive proposal, and meet program management and information requirements.
The State of Colorado has implemented a new Energy $ervices, First Response program targeted to low-income households with average or below average levels of electricity and gas consumption. This program aims to reinforce energy efficient behaviors and help low-income households to reduce their energy consumption. Prior to implementation, APPRISE conducted research on the service delivery models for high-volume, low-cost services that have been implemented in other states. This 2006 memo furnishes information on the program models and the organizations and/or vendors who implemented the programs and makes recommendations to Colorado regarding the applicability of these models to the Energy $ervices, First Response program.
The 2004 Colorado REACh grant developed a comprehensive cooling program to assist Colorado’s low-income households. Local agency partners implemented cooling program services, including equipment installation and client education, and the state LIHEAP office furnished community-wide education and notification services. APPRISE conducted a comprehensive Process and Impact Evaluation of this program.
Many low-income usage reduction programs are facing increasing challenges serving customers due to the prevalence of health and safety problems that prevent major measures from being installed.  As a result of serious issues in the home, customers must be deferred or are treated with only minor services, and high-usage customer with good potential for savings do not participate or only achieve low energy savings.  This research assesses the circumstances under which additional cost-effective health and safety spending can be invested to achieve greater savings for low-income customers and the program as a whole. 
The Cool Homes Program aimed to mitigate heat-related problems of the elderly. This program provided measures to reduce summer temperatures in the home, educated customers on how to keep their homes cool, and established a buddy system that initiated contact with seniors during high-risk periods. APPRISE conducted a Process Evaluation of this program.
FirstEnergy offers a Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP) and Act 129 Low-Income Programs to assist low-income customers. The programs provide energy efficiency and energy education services, help low-income customers maintain electric service, and protect customers’ health and safety. APPRISE conducted a study to assess recent program changes, and to provide guidance to FirstEnergy on future tracking, reporting, and process improvements. The research included an assessment of what changes should be made to program procedures, whether additional measures should be added, and how projected energy savings for additional energy efficiency measures should be calculated.
First State CAA is implementing a heating replacement and energy conservation program for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. The Repair Replace Heaters and Conserving Energy (RRHACE) program is designed to assess the needs of low-income households and to deliver a customized set of services, including heating equipment assessment and services, Healthy Homes assessment and services, and energy education. APPRISE is advising First State on the Data Tracking System and conducting Process and Impact Evaluations. The Process Evaluation will assess challenges and opportunities, and will develop performance measures to be assessed in the Impact Evaluation.
The Illinois REACh project was an innovative pilot program aimed to help low-income households maintain energy service throughout the year and reduce the health and safety risks associated with energy service disruption. The comprehensive program worked with clients to increase resources available for paying energy bills, reduce the amount of energy used through effective energy-saving actions and participation in usage reduction programs, and develop the skills that are needed to maintain energy service through proactive management of their monthly budgets and energy bills. APPRISE conducted an evaluation of this program to assist program managers in assessing whether the program design is appropriate, whether there are any barriers to implementing the program as designed, and whether the program has achieved the intended impacts.
APPRISE is conducting research for the Environmental Defense Fund to document low-income energy efficiency (LIEE) programs in four states and around the country.  The research will assess the state-level policy and program design changes that are necessary to overcome barriers and fully realize the benefits of low-income energy efficiency.  The topics that will be explored include the Regulatory and Program Structure of LIEE offerings, Barriers to and Potential for Investment in Low-Income Energy Efficiency, Best Practices for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs, and Policies and Financing Mechanisms.  The report will answer three core questions: 1) How does the current regulatory and program structure of LIEE offerings in each state impact the scale, speed, and efficiency of deployment, 2) What are the specific barriers to deploying LIEE to levels approaching its potential, and 3) What are some of the best practices for LIEE program design, marketing, reporting to expand LIEE in each target state.
The Minnesota Conservation Improvement Programs (CIP) portfolios include low-income components to assist income-eligible households with energy conservation. APPRISE is conducting research through the Conservation Applied Research & Development (CARD) Grant Program to provide a comprehensive review of the low-income efficiency programs, evaluate the program processes, and assess program policies and guidelines. The goal of the research is to facilitate more effective program operations and policymaking.
APPRISE was the lead contractor for the evaluation of the National Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). APPRISE had three key partners for this effort – Blasnik and Associates, Dahloff Associates, and the Energy Center of Wisconsin, and was also supported by technical experts from across the country. The evaluation consisted of data collection from state WAP offices, local agencies, and participating and nonparticipating clients. Utility data was collected and analyzed for a sample of clients from every state and submetering studies were conducted to assess impacts on clients who use bulk fuels and to conduct special technical studies. The evaluation assessed program operations and delivery, energy impacts, and non-energy impacts, and made recommendations for modifications to program design and delivery.
The New Hampshire REACh Furnace Cleaning Program aimed to decrease energy usage and reduce home energy insecurity for low-income households in northern New Hampshire by cleaning furnaces and identifying furnaces in need of repair and replacement. Extensive furnace repairs and furnace replacements were also provided in those homes where the need was identified. APPRISE’s evaluation included interviews with program managers, community agency staff, and furnace cleaners; and analysis of the impact of the program on energy usage, energy insecurity, and furnace safety and efficiency indicators.
The goal of the New Hampshire Weatherization Assistance Program Evaluation is to analyze the impact of weatherization activity on energy consumption and individual household energy security as well as the efficacy of the program management and delivery of services. In this project, we provided: an assessment of the implementation of the program; an analysis of the program tracking database; identification of program deficiencies and how they might affect results; a description of how evaluation results may be used for program design and management; development of recommendations; identification of missed opportunities to install measures and why they were missed; and an assessment of the impact of the program on participant energy burden and their perception of energy burden.
The Comfort Partners Program is a statewide collaborative utility residential low-income program, providing joint delivery of services through electric and gas utilities. Participating customers receive direct installation of energy efficiency measures, energy education, and payment plans aimed to reduce arrearages. APPRISE conducted a comprehensive evaluation of this program, including a Process Evaluation and analysis of the program’s data tracking system, the comprehensiveness of service delivery, and the impacts on energy usage and bill payment.
The NJ Comfort Partners Program provides no-cost energy efficiency services to low-income utility customers throughout the state. APPRISE conducted a comprehensive evaluation of this program. The Data Tracking Research assessed the comprehensiveness, sufficiency, and accuracy of the program database. The Process Evaluation included review and assessment of materials and procedures; interviews with utility managers; interviews and on-site observations at service delivery contractors; on-site observation of audits, installations, and third party inspections; and post-completion inspections of program installations. The Affordability Evaluation included a telephone survey with program participants and analysis of the program’s impact on affordability of energy bills and participation in the NJ Universal Service Fund program. The Impact Evaluation included analysis of program data, engineering impact analysis, usage impact analysis, and savings realization analysis. The Energy Savings Protocols Research included review and assessment of protocols currently in use to estimate program savings.
The NJ Comfort Partners Program provides no-cost energy efficiency services to low-income utility customers throughout the state. APPRISE last conducted a comprehensive evaluation of this program in 2013.  The 2017 evaluation will review program changes that have been made since the last evaluation, estimate energy savings with a billing analysis, review and make recommendations for changes to the Energy Saving Protocols, and conduct targeted participant telephone interviews and on-site inspections of completed jobs.
The New Jersey Comfort Partners Seniors Pilot extends Comfort Partners weatherization services to seniors in Monroe Township, New Jersey, with incomes above the guidelines for the Comfort Partners Program. APPRISE conducted an Impact Evaluation of this program. The evaluation measured the electric usage reduction that resulted from the program.
The purpose of this research was to furnish the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the New Jersey Clean Energy Council with detailed documentation of the existing weatherization programs in New Jersey and estimates of the usage reduction impacts of the NJ WAP. The analysis addressed the differences and similarities between the program models and the rationale for each program’s design. The evaluation also provided impact results for two agencies that provide WAP services in New Jersey. This information was designed to help the BPU and the Clean Energy Council assess which model might be most appropriate for a ratepayer-funded low-income usage reduction program.
APPRISE conducted national evaluations of the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) for program years 2008 and 2010.   In this study of New York’s WAP for the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), APPRISE used data collected from New York State to furnish detailed information on the performance of the New York WAP program.  This analysis provided statewide statistics, results for selected subgroups, and program savings and cost-effectiveness statistics.
Niagara Mohawk’s Low-Income Customer Assistance Program (LICAP) was designed to address the problems of low-income customers who are unable to pay their full energy bills. Payment-troubled customers may receive an affordable payment arrangement, energy use management education, and a variety of energy efficiency services including weatherization and energy efficient appliance replacement. APPRISE conducted Process and Impact Evaluations of this program.
NYSERDA’s EmPower Program provides cost-effective electric reduction measures to low-income households. These measures include lighting and refrigerator replacements, insulation, air sealing, heating system repair and replacement, and health and safety measures. The program provides in-home energy use education to customers to assist them with strategies for managing their energy costs. Participants are also invited to energy-use management and financial management workshops held in communities across the state. APPRISE conducted surveys with EmPower Program participants to assess pre- and post-program energy use and potential opportunities to refine the program. APPRISE conducted surveys with nonparticipants to assess barriers to program participation.
APPRISE conducted research to characterize the low- and moderate- income populations in New York State, to estimate the impact of existing programs that target these populations, and to identify opportunities for future program outreach and targeting.  This study analyzed publically-available population, housing, and energy data; program data; and specialty data on health indicators, population mobility, and economic characteristics.  The research provided the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) and program partners throughout the New York State government with comprehensive information that can be used to improve program models, estimate program potential, and measure program accomplishments.
The Ohio Department of Development, Office of Energy Efficiency, has implemented programs funded by the Universal Service Fund. Participating customers receive cost-effective energy efficiency services and education targeted at reducing electric usage. APPRISE conducted a Process Evaluation of this program. The work included review of all program documents; interviews with program managers, staff, and contractors; observation of service delivery; customer surveys; contractor surveys; and economic analysis of the impacts of the program on Ohio’s economy.
Ohio’s Department of Development, Office of Community Services, was awarded a REACh grant to research how to provide additional resources to low-income weatherization services in a way that addresses the more comprehensive needs of low-income households. These funds were used to assess the in-home environmental health risks for vulnerable individuals, prioritize usage reduction measures to meet the energy and health needs of vulnerable individuals, and provide additional measures that enhance the health and safety of the home. The program also established a partnership with vulnerable households to take actions to mitigate the environmental health risks in the home and refer clients to other services that can improve the health of the home and the clients who live there. APPRISE conducted a process and impact evaluation of this project.
PECO’s Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP) provides energy efficiency services and energy education to PECO’s low-income customers to reduce their energy usage and increase the affordability of their energy bills. The evaluations estimated the impact of LIURP on participants’ energy usage, energy bills, and payment compliance and surveyed customers to analyze the impact of energy education and client behavioral changes. In the 2012 program evaluation, APPRISE also conducted observations of service delivery and inspections on a sample of completed jobs. This research provided information on potential changes to program services and implementation that may lead to increased program savings. The evaluation of 2015 participants assessed the program process, examined the impacts of program treatments on energy usage and affordability, and surveyed customers to assess program satisfaction.
PGW’s ELIRP provides no-cost comprehensive weatherization treatments to selected, high-usage PGW bill payment assistance program participants. APPRISE conducted an impact evaluation and a market study for the program. The impact evaluation estimated energy savings, assessed savings achieved through individual major measures, calculated savings obtained by each contractor, and analyzed client targeting to make recommendations for how greater savings may be achieved. The market study included interviews with program managers, interviews with implementation contractors, and review of inspection reports to identify how PGW can improve the program’s efficiency and effectiveness.
PPL Electric Utilities (PPL) implemented the Winter Relief Assistance Program (WRAP) in 1984 to help reduce electric bills and improve home comfort for low-income customers. The objectives of the WRAP are to reduce energy usage and bills of low-income customers and to increase low-income customers’ ability to pay their electric bills, resulting in reduced arrearages. The program also aims to increase health, safety, and comfort for low-income occupants; create and maintain partnerships with community based organizations and contractors; and make referrals to other low-income assistance programs. APPRISE conducted a comprehensive Process and Impact evaluation of PPL’s WRAP. The research consisted of administrative interviews, review of program procedures, on-site observation of service delivery, customer interviews, service delivery provider interviews, and usage and payment impact analyses.
The Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) is a national in-person survey of energy use in residential housing units conducted by the U.S Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). In this project, APPRISE developed Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) participation data for respondents to the 2009 RECS survey. This task included obtaining information on RECS sample locations and respondent addresses, collecting LIHEAP administrative data from LIHEAP program managers, matching LIHEAP administrative data to RECS respondents, developing statistical procedures for addressing survey non-response and weighting issues, and furnishing documentation regarding the procedures used to fulfill the objectives of this task.
Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) Low-Income Weatherization Program provides no-cost energy services to qualified low-income residential customers. The goals of the program are to reduce electric bills, improve safety and comfort, provide energy education to reduce usage and lower bills, and partner with contractors and community organizations in providing these services. APPRISE’s comprehensive evaluation included needs assessment, interviews with program administrators and contractors, a participant survey, on-site inspections of completed jobs, and billing analysis to measure the impacts on energy usage.
UGI’s Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP) provides no-cost energy efficiency services to low-income customers in its service territory. APPRISE conducted a Process and Impact Evaluation of this program. The research included review and assessment of program materials and procedures, on-site interviews with UGI managers and staff, in-depth telephone interviews with a sample of program participants, and analysis of the program’s impact on the energy usage of participating customers.
The Vermont REACh program created a private, non-profit energy consumers’ cooperative called Consumerco. This cooperative aims to achieve the Vermont REACh goal by providing comprehensive energy and efficiency services to its members. Consumerco aims to assist its low-income consumers in attaining energy self-sufficiency by instructing them how to minimize energy usage, choose the most cost-effective fuel, obtain the least cost supply of fuel, receive fuel assistance, and finance weatherization. In this project, we conducted background research, provided a process evaluation of the Consumerco, provided a process evaluation of the case management, and conducted an impact evaluation. We furnished concrete performance data and program documentation to the federal LIHEAP office and REACh program managers.