Weatherization and energy efficiency add up to good investments
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Some recent studies have questioned whether federal weatherization programs were good investments, delivering more value than the cost.
In addition to understand how well taxpayer dollars were spent, the effectiveness of the efforts could have an impact on self-funded home improvement efforts by millions of homeowners.
Dr. Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency for the U.S. Department of Energy, responded with a fresh look at whether the federal Weatherization Assistance Progam (WAP) fulfilled its promises.
Dr. Hogan responded to a working paper released in June by academics with the E2e Project that suggested that the federal Weatherization Assistance Program and other energy efficiency programs are not good investments. Hogan said the paper's conclusions contradicted many past studies and was so surprising that the media was set abuzz.
Here are excerpts from Dr. Hogan's response, Getting It Right: Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Are Good Investments
Two new major, peer reviewed, national evaluations of WAP from DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) provide fresh evidence that WAP is indeed a good investment with energy savings exceeding the costs by a factor of 1.4. The evaluations also show that under the Recovery Act, while achieving economic stimulus goals, the benefit cost ratio for WAP energy savings measures is estimated at just below 1, substantially better results than found by E2e.
But WAP achieves more than helping low-income households lower their energy bills. While WAP crews are in homes installing energy savings measures, they also address health and safety issues by fixing broken windows, replacing faulty water heaters, repairing holes in roofs as well as installing other protective measures. With health and safety benefits and costs included, the benefit cost ratio rises to 4.
Over the past 40 years, this program has saved Americans billions of dollars and has been repeatedly demonstrated as cost-effective. However, its work on health and safety issues, and its practices of combining WAP funds with other low-income directed assistance dollars make it apples and oranges to compare WAP to other residential efficiency programs. Programs run by utilities and state and local governments across the nation are different and have been repeatedly demonstrated as cost-effective.
WAP is designed to assist vulnerable populations, prioritizing service delivery to elderly persons, persons with disabilities, families with children in the home, high-energy users, and those with high-energy burdens. Its investment in energy efficiency and health and safety helps families in energy cost crises across the country, and produces lower energy bills, more comfortable and safe homes, and affects economic impacts through job creation. The ORNL national evaluations demonstrate that this is a program that works.
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Companies: U.S. Department of Energy