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Energy

Prmled

Vol 6. No 7. pp
in Great Bntain

6?140.

036~~44!/81/07~?1-10$0?.00i0
Pergamon
Prers Ltd

1981

REVIEW OF UTILITY HOME ENERGY AUDIT PROGRAMS?


ERICHIRST,LINDABERRY,
and
Energy

Division,

Oak Ridge National


(Received

Laboratory,
16 December

JON

SODERSTR~M

Oak Ridge. TN 37830.

I.S.A.

1980)

Abstract-Evaluation
efforts of utilities with active home energy audit program\ were reviewed tu provide
insights into the operations and effectiveness
of existing utility home energy audit programs. About half the
utilities contacted
had little or no evaluation
activity. Of those with evaluation
activity.
most conducted
only informal
evaluations
for in-house use. A few utilities had conducted
fully documented
formal
evaluations.
On the basis mainly of written reports received from the utilities, findings about customer
response to program, are summarized.
The topics discussed include: determinants
of program participation
rates, use of financing. attitudes toward programs. actions taken, characteristics
of participant5
and energy
savings due to program,.

I. INTRODUCTION

The 75 million households in the U.S. consume more than one-fifth of the nations total energy
budget. Residential energy use totaled about 17 Quads (18 EJ) in 1978 for space heating, water
heating, air conditioning, lighting, and operation of various applicances.
Improving the efficiency of energy use in existing homes is important because of high and
rapidly rising fuel prices, scarcities and occasional shortages of fuels, and the very long lifetime
of the nations housing stock. Therefore, many government (federal, state, and local) and utility
programs have been developed that seek to reduce residential energy use.
These programs were given a strong boost with passage of the 1978National Energy Act. The
Residential Conservation Service (RCS, created by the National Energy Conservation Policy
Act) requires major gas and electric utilities to offer a variety of conservation services to their
residential customers. These include program announcements to advertise the availability of
RCS services and to inform customers of their options to save energy: on-site energy audits:
and lists of contractors, financial institutions and suppliers.
Other programs related to improved efficiency of residential energy use include the lowincome Weatherization Assistance Program, the Energy Extension Service, the residential
energy conservation tax credit, the Project Conserve computerized home energy audit. and an
enormous variety of publications. In addition to these federal efforts. there are additional
programs operated by state and local governments, by electric and gas utilities, by fuel oil and
LPG dealers, and by private industry.
Careful evaluation can play a major role in documenting the effects of these conservation
programs and in improving their performance. Data and analysis are needed to determine how
these programs work and what their effects are on households and their energy use.
Because evaluation of conservation programs is a new area, little is known about how these
programs work. Fortunately, some electric and gas utilities have evaluated their home energy
audit programs during the past few years. This review of past evaluations was conducted to
document findings on these utility programs.
We talked with conservation program staff in 35 utilities with active audit programs (gas,
electric, and combination). We also talked with staff in state energy offices, state public service
commissions, and other organizations. The major purpose of these telephone conversations was
to learn about past and present utility efforts to evaluate their home energy audit programs. The
utility evaluations provided considerable insight into the operations and effectiveness of
existing home energy audit programs.
The following section explains the approach taken in our contacts with utility, energy office.
and public service commission staff. A brief overview of the utility programs is also presented.
Section 3 presents findings (based on both the telephone conversations and on analysis of the
iResearch
W-7405.eng-26

sponsored
by the Office of Conservation
with Union Carbide Corporation.

and Solar

621

Energy,

U.S.

Department

of Energy.

under

contract

622

E.

HIRST
et al.

publications later provided) concerning customer response to the utility conservation programs.
Topics considered in Section 3 include determinants of participation rates in energy audit
programs, conservation actions taken after the audit, customer attitudes towards the audit and
auditor, and characteristics of program participants.

2. METHODS

AND

FOCUS

Telephone contact was made with utilities, state agencies and other organizations to discuss
evaluations of existing home energy audit programs. The utilities differed in location (Fig. I),
type, and population served. The utilities selected included natural gas utilities, federal/regional
systems, combination gas and electric utilities, electric utilities, municipal electric utilities, and
cooperative utilities. In addition, six state energy offices, three state public utility commissions,
and three private organizations were contacted. t
The selection methods included asking trade associations, the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) and state energy offices for suggestions about appropriate utilities to contact. Utilities
that offered type A audits! were preferred since such programs are similar to those offered
under the RCS program.
Contact with the selected organizations was made during late Spring 1980. The discussion
outline developed for the phone calls was designed to be flexible enough to be relevant to the
specific characteristics of various programs. The following topics were included in the discussion outline:
Program overview including (a) type of program, (b) objectives of program, (c) length of
operation, (d) availability of home energy audits, (e) motivation for program.
Program operation including (a) description of how an energy audit is performed using either a
mailed survey or on-site audit, (b) costs to customer, (c) costs to utility.
Other services provided including (a) installation of materials, (b) sale of materials, (c) financing
(billing procedure, interest rate), (d) quality control.
Methods used for informing customers including (a) bill enclosures, (b) workshops, (c) booklets,
(d) T.V. or other mass media.
Program evaluation availability based on (a) existence of evaluation, (b) agency/person
responsible for evaluation, (c) availability of written evaluation reports.
Measurements included in the evaluation such as (a) the number of requests or response rates,
(b) characteristics of program participants and nonparticipants, (c) attitudes/reaction to program,
(d) actions taken, (e) energy savings due to the program, (f) costs and cost effectiveness of the
program.
Organization of the evaluation including (a) time period covered, (b) pre-program measures, (c)
control or comparison groups.
Results of the evaluation such as (a) strong and weak points of the program, (b) usefulness of
results.
The home insulation programs of the utilities contacted differed in the nature and the
degreee of utility involvement.4*6A few utilities such as the Seattle City Light and Salt River
Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (Salt River) offered comprehensive
retrofit services including information dissemination, sales and installation of materials, financing, and reinspection.4 Others covered all phases of the insulation process except installation.
Various other combinations of services were found as well. Some utilities, such as Iowa-Illinois
Gas and Electric, offered onbl information dissemination.
Over 80% of the programs identified have been operating for less than three years; some have
been operating for more than five years. These include Pacific Gas and Electric (PGBrE),
Georgia Power, Boston Edison Company, Guadalupe Valley, and Consumers Power Company.

tSee Appendix I of Ref. 3 for a complete list of the organizations


contacted. Eight of the utilities contacted did not have
active home energy audit programs and were excluded from further analyses.
SThe A, B. and C type audits are defined as follows: (A) a utility representative
inspects the home, takes measurements.
and returns information
on costs and payback periods to the customer; (B) the customer inspects the home and takes
measurements,
mails the information
to the utility, which processes it and mails the results to the customer;
(C) the
customer is given a workbook
and performs all measurements
and calculations
himself.

Review of utility home energy audit programs

l---r--T

EGY Vol. 6. No. 7-E

623

E. HIRSTrf ul.

624
3. FINDINGS

ABOUT

CUSTOMER

RESPONSE

TO PROGRAMS

The availability and quality of evaluations of utility home energy audit programs were highly
variable. About half of the utilities had little or no evaluation activity. About one-third
conducted informal evaluations for in-house use but produced no formal written documents. A
few utilities completed extensive formal evaluations which are fully documented in published
reports. All but one of these formal written evaluations were conducted by consulting firms
hired by the utilities.
The topics covered in the evaluations also varied considerably. Nearly all the evaluations had
information on levels of customer participation in the program. Customer attitudes toward the
program were also measured in most evaluations. Data on use of financing and characteristics
of participants were collected in fewer evaluations. The main goal of most of the evaluation
efforts was to produce information to help improve program management. There were not many
attempts to measure overall program impact or energy use, but the types of actions taken by
participants were tabulated in several studies.- Only three studies measured energy savings
with fuel consumption records.97,3 Methodological flaws that may influence interpretation of
these results are discussed in Ref. 3. The lack of control groups in all but two of the evaluation
efforts, for example, seriously impairs the validity of conclusions.
Because of variability among utilities in the extent and type of evaluation conducted, the
completeness of information on specific topics (such as characteristics of participants or energy
savings) also varies. As a result, the discussion of some topics in this section may be based on
only two or three cases, while the discussion of other topics may be based on ten or more. All
of the topics are covered on the basis of subjective impressions. A complete enumeration of
results for all utilities contacted was not feasible for any of the topics. In spite of numerous
gaps in the information available from the utilities, a consistent pattern of findings often
emerged. These patterns, with examples, are discussed below.
3.1 Determinants of participation rates
The calculation of customer participation rates requires that the number of audits requested
or completed be divided by the number of customers eligible to receive an audit. It was not
possible to calculate directly comparable participation rates for the various utility programs
because their definitions of eligibility differed. Many of the utilities offered audits to only a
subset of the residences in their service area. Tampa Electric, for example, chose to mail offers
only to 42,000 single-family dwelling customers with high levels of consumption. Portland
General Electric offered audits only to all-electric households. CONN SAVE, Inc. wished to
attract only 1000 audit customers for a pilot program effort. San Diego Gas and Electric initially
made mail offers to only a random sample of customers. Because methods of selecting
households eligible for participation varied, definitions of a denominator for participation rates
were inconsistent. Thus, it is not possible to make direct comparisons of overall program
participation rates across utilities. Four utilities reported that more than 10% of their eligible
customers had requested audits. Most of the participation rates reported were less than 5%
for the entire program lifetime.
While directly comparable participation rates could not be calculated, a number of determinants of response rates were identified. These determinantst include advertising strategies,
seasonal influences, ease of access to the audit service, age of the program and type of audit
offered. Each of these determinants are discussed below.
3.1.1 Advertising. The utility program managers we talked with consistently reported that
advertising campaigns greatly increased levels of customers response. A DOE sponsored report
on utility programs,6 which focused on methods of increasing customer participation rates, also
offered numerous examples in support of this general conclusion. Niagara Mohawk Power
tit should be noted that these participation rate determinants were identified on the basis of the experience of managers
of a single program. That is, the findings about determinants are not based on any correlation or regression analysis across
utilities. Rather, they are based on reports made by program managers about what increased or decreased levels of
customer response in their own program. These findings may not be generalizable to other settings. In other words, what
worked for the manager of a Boston area program may not work for a San Diego area program. Further research is needed
to discover how the determinants discussed in this section apply to settings other than the ones where they were identified.

Review

of utility

home energy

audit programr

625

Corporation (NMPC), which maintains a daily record of audit request, found inquiries were
directly proportional to the amount of advertising done in a given period.
While all types of advertising have some impact on response rates, television advertising
seems to be the most powerful. NMPC found that when three or four TV spots were run in a
given area in one week, they were inundated with requests and had to stop further advertising.h
The N.Y. State Residential Insulation Survey found that most people relied on TV (39%) and
newspaper ads (34%) to get information about conservation. Relatively few listened to seminars
(5%), oil companies (ll%), or government agencies (1 l%). Hence TV and radio campaigns
may be an essential part of program management.
Many utilities rely on bill stuffers for exposure. Yet several utilities found that customer
response to direct mail offers was much greater than the response to the bill insert.-
Few utilities had information on the cost effectiveness of various forms of advertising.
although several mentioned that they did not use television because of its high cost. While
precise measurements of advertising cost effectiveness were not available, most utilities
believed the results justified the cost.j
To be most effective, advertising must be fully integrated with stages of program development. Coordination between the promotion and operation of the program is essential. Without
such coordination, excessive backlogs of requests and long waits, which cause customers to
lose interest, will result. A number of utilities had to stop or limit advertising because response
levels exceeded their ability to deliver services..-4An advertising campaign that controls the
scheduling of responses will be more effective and efficient than a campaign that is not
coordinated with the delivery of audit services.
3.1.2 Seasonal influences. The effectiveness of advertising campaigns also can be increased
by initiating them just before the high billing season. Utilities with winter demand peaks
reported higher levels of audit requests in the fall, while summer peaking utilities had higher
levels in the spring.6*4Since most customers request audits to save money on fuel bills,.9ads
timed to coincide with anticipation of higher bills are more persuasive.
3.1.3 Ease of access. Another method of increasing customer response, is to make the
process of obtaining an audit as easy as possible. Niagara Mohawk Power recommended
keeping customer contact with the utility to a minimum so that the customer does not have to
do much work to obtain an audit. The more steps a customer has to take, the less likely he/she
is to request or receive an audit. Offering audits on weekends and evenings is another way to
simplify the process for customers. San Diego Gas and Electric found that customer response
increased when audits were offered outside of the usual 8 a.m.-5 p.m. workdays. Offering
audits on evenings and weekends may be especially helpful to low-income families who are
more likely to lose pay if they leave work and who may have transportation problems.
3.1.4 Age of program. Most utilities found that the annual percentage of customers responding increased with each year of program operation. Salt River. for example, had audited 2% of
their customers after their first year, 5% after the second year, and 10% after the third year.
During their first year of operation, CONN SAVE, Inc., had difficulty obtaining a 1000
household sample of participants for their pilot program.25 Even the added inducement of a free
water saver showerhead (worth about $15 retail) did not attract the needed requests for home
energy audits. Only 800 audits were requested, which amounts to about I% of the eligible
customers. In contrast, the older Consolidated Edison program, which started in September of
1978 in neighboring New York, has completed 20,000 audits, representing almost 3% of its audit
market potential of 716,000 one-, two-, three- and four-family homes.h Several program
managers believed that response levels increased over time primarily because satisfied audit
customers were the best form of advertising for their program.
3.1.5 Type of audit. The type of audit offered is also related to the level of response. Pacific
Gas and Electric (PG&E) noted different response rates for customer do-it-yourself as
opposed to in-home auditor conducted audits.j For the Concord, California pilot study,
PG&E offered customers either a do-it-yourself audit or an in-home audit. The response rate
for the do-it-yourself audit was almost four times higher (44%) than for the in-home audit
(12%).~ Ease of scheduling the do-it-yourself audit may be one factor influencing the different
level of response.

626

E. HIRSTet al.

3.2 Use of financing


Typically a small percentage of audited customers finance retrofit measures. The New York
State Residential Insulation Survey found that only 7.4% of audited customers used financing.
Eighty-one per cent of those who took action paid cash for the retrofit. Those most likely to want
financing are less affluent homeowners, renters, landlords, and those investing in expensive
conservation packages.
The first report on implementation of the NY State Home Insulation and Energy Conservation Act found that 2% of the A audit group and 2% of the B audit group requested
financing. Only 4 out of the 13,000C audit customers requested financing. People likely to
request financing were owners of a single-family house using gas heat who had a contractor do
the insulation. The second report of that same survey showed that 4.3% of the A and B audit
groups requested loans.
A DOE study4 found that for the utilities reporting percentages, no more than 25% of audited
customers and usually between 5 and 15% sought financing. There was no apparent relationship
between interest rate charged and the percentage of customers using financing. Too few cases
were available to be sure that this conclusion is valid however.
A Seattle City Light survey indicated that 50% of the respondents said the availability of
loans would have no influence on their decision to invest in home insulation and 33% said they
would never consider a loan. The remaining respondents would pay over $500 before obtaining
a loan for retrofit. The availability of financing therefore does not appear to be a crucial
motivating factor for most customers who participate in home energy audit programs.
3.3 Attitudes toward audits
Overall, the attitudes of customers toward the home energy audits offered by their utilities
were very positive. Surveys generally showed that more than 80% of audited customers were
completely satisfied with their home energy audits.7~8~0~~328
Few negative feelings about utility
home energy audits were found. Customer ratings of San Diego Gas and Electrics audits
revealed, for example, many strong points and little need to change. For the most part, people
were satisfied with the auditors manner and knowledge and felt that the auditors information
was understandable and helpful. Ninety-eight per cent of the respondents to the Tampa Electric
Company survey felt the audit was thorough and 98% would recommend the audit to others.
Of all the utilities examined, none offered data indicating that their audit was poorly received
by the public. Contact between utility and customer was defined as positive and worthwile. One
utility (Baltimore Gas and Electric) noted that 60% of the respondents reported a higher opinion
of their utility due to receiving an audit while only 3% had a lower opinion.29
3.4 Actions taken
Respondents across utilities show a general tendency to minimize the initial investment in
retrofit and to select measures which pay for themselves with lower fuel bills in a few years.
Consequently, the most common actions taken are those that can be purchased and installed
inexpensively and without a contractors assistance.7.98.2V28
Such actions include caulking and
weatherstripping, clock thermostats, and water heater blankets. Minimal changes in lifestyle
such as turning down the temperatures of the heating system and hot water heater and turning
off lights also are often reported by respondents as being implemented. The less frequent and
more expensive actions include adding storm doors or windows and installing attic, wall or floor
insulation.2.28
Higher percentages of respondents typically install caulking and weatherstripping or adjust
and insulate hot water heaters than install attic, floor and wall insulation or install storm doors
and windows (Table 1). Northern States Power found, for example, that 55% of its audited
customers added caulking or weatherstripping while 34% added attic insulation, 14% added
wall or floor insulation, and 27% installed storm windows or doors.* Similarly, Tampa electric
found that 29% installed weatherstripping and caulking, 27% adjusted or insulated water
heaters, 21% added attic insulation, 6% added wall or floor insulation and 7% installed storm
windows and doors. The other utility surveys found a similar pattern of higher proportions
taking inexpensive actions.

Review
Table

I. Percentage

of program
Tampa
Electri4
Compan

Action

Caulk and/or
weatherstrip
Total

already
taken
plan to take

Insulate and/or
reduce temperature of water
heater
Total

already
taken
plan to take

Install attic
insulation
Total

already taken
plan to take

Install wall,
and/or floor
insulation
Total
Install
windows

already
taken
plan to take

storm
and/or

627

who have taken or plan to take action

Gulf States
Utilitie 9
Compan

CONN

SAVE'

by type of action.
San Diego
Gas and (.
Electric

Northern
States
PoweF

';?$

55
33
88

N/As

28

N/A
76

::

N/A

27
41

N/A
N/A

31
34

N/A
N/A

N/A

N/A

68

31

65

N/A

N/A

77

21
43
64

N/A
N/A

34

N!A

56

24
53
77

N/A
N/A

6
13

14

15

19

N/A
N/A

taken
to

audit programs

29

Total

Total percentage
already
taking any we plan

participants

home energy

44
73

already taken
plan to take

doors

of utility

take

action
Total

18
N/A

30

N/A

N/A
65

N/A

N/A

N/A
N/A

55

N/A

N/A

14
8

h/A

N/A

22

15

N/A
N/A

20

27

N/A

15

N/A
N/A

41

N/A

N/A

42

N/A

'77
22

N/A
N/A

N/A
N/A

N/A
N/A

N/A
h/A

99

N/A

N/A

N/A

75

0, Ref. 10; b, actions taken and planned were not


were reported
(Ref. 9); e, Ref. 21; f, Ref. 8; 9.

separated
N/A = not

(Ref. 11); ~7, Ref.


available.

28; C, only

actions

already

taken

Most utility surveys indicated that a majority of the people receiving audits took conservation measures. The reported percentages of program participants taking any action ranges
from 30%* to 77% with an average of 40-50%. Unfortunately, the actions taken by people
who did not have audits were recorded in only two evaluations: Seattle City Light and Northern
States Power.9,2 Comparisons of actions taken by program participants vs nonparticipants are
given in Table 2. In the Seattle City Light (SCL) program, participants took more actions than
nonparticipants for three categories: insulate and/or reduce temperature of water heater (30%
vs 20%) install wall and/or floor insulation (9% vs 6%), install storm windows and/or doors
(20% vs 14%). For the other categories (caulk and/or weatherstrip, install attic insulation) there
was no difference between participant and nonparticipant actions. In the Northern States Power
(NSP) program, participants took more actions than nonparticipants in only one category: caulk
and/or weatherstrip (55% vs 45%). In all other categories nonparticipants took action slightly
more often (l-4% higher rates) than participants.
Table

2. Comparison

of actions

taken by program

participants

and nonparticipants

by type of actions.
EIA

Seattle City
Lighta

Action

Northern S ates
Powe J

participants
nonparticipants

18%
18%

55%
45%

Insulate and/or
reduce temperature of water
heater

participants
nonparticipants

30%
20%

Install attic
insulation

participants
nonparticipants

7%

Install wall
and/or floor
insulation

participants
nonparticipants

Install
windows
doors

participants
nonparticipants

storm
and/or

1977

1978

U.S.
Caulk and/or
weatherstrip

survey'

West

NCd

U.S.

West

NCd

23%

13%

33%

25%

N/A=
N/A

1%

1%

1%

1x

1%

1 "3

34%
35%

4%

4%

5%

4%

3%

6%

;;

14%
18%

4%

3"'
n

5%

4%

3%

6%

20%
14%

27%
28%

8%

5%

10%

9%

6%

10%

7%

19%

30%

a, Ref. 9; b, Ref. 21; c, The EIA survey used a representative


national
sample of households
and did
Because of the low number of participants
not distinguish
between participants
and nonparticipants.
on a national
basis, however, a large majority
of EIA respondents
are certain to be nonparticipants
(Ref. 30); d, North Central
region; e, N/A = not available.

628

E. HIRST et al.

Table 2 also presents findings from the National Interim Energy Consumption Survey done
by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).30 This EIA survey included questions about
retrofit actions taken by a representative national sample of 4081 households in 1977 and 1978.
Results of the EIA survey were presented for the nation as a whole and for the four census
regions (Northeast, North Central, South and West).30 In Table 2 the EIA national results and
the EIA West and North Centralt results are shown so that they can be compared with SCLs
and NSPs findings. Both SCL and NSP program participants took more actions of all types
than EIA respondents. Table 1 also shows that utility audit program participants took actions
more frequently than EIA respondents. A surprising result (Table 2) is that SCL and NSP
surveys both found that their nonparticipants took more actions than EIA respondents. The
explanation for this finding is not clear since the surveys covered different geographical areas;
but it is likely that the EIA sample is more representative of all nonparticipants than are the
SCL and NSP samples due to more systematic selection pr0cedures.S
Another finding of the EIA survey which should be noted is that in both 1977 and 1978 about
one-third of the households had taken some conservation related action3 This figure can be
compared to utility figures for program participants which generally show that over 50% take some
action.*. These findings suggest that home energy audit programs do increase the pronortion of
households taking action. The programs also tend to alter the mix of actions taken (Table 2).
3.5 Characteristics
of participants
People who participated in home energy audit programs were clearly not a cross-section of
the general public. Utility program participants always had higher educational and income
levels than was average for their respective locations.7,8**28
Another typical characteristic of
participants was a greater interest/awareness/concern with energy conservation than was found
among the general population.9* Participants also were more likely to own single-family homes
than nonparticipants and were more likely to own larger than average homes.8~28
San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E)8 found that three out of four persons requesting an
energy audit had attended college and that 85% of the heads of audited households had some
college training. In contrast, a sample survey of San Diegos total population, conducted by
SDG&E, showed that only about half of the general public had any formal education beyond
high school. SDG&E also found that audit program participants were considerably more
affluent than the general population. The median income for program participants was $25,300,
25% higher than the median income of San Diegos total population. Gulf States Utilities and
CONN SAVE also found that their program participants were in the middle and upper income
brackets.**
Pacific Gas and Electric found that audits appealed more to customers with already higher
than average awareness of/concern with energy conservation.3 SDG&Es survey did not
support this finding but the difference may be due in part to question wording.8 In general,
national surveys show that people with higher education and incomes are more aware of and
concerned about energy issues.3.32
Ninety-six per cent of SDG&E audit participants owned single-family homes. Their houses
were also larger than average. CONN SAVE, Inc. found that on average, audited homes were
40% larger than homes of the general public.*
The profile of the typical audit program participant is internally consistent. One would expect
people with higher educational and income levels to have a greater awareness of energy issues
and to be the owners of larger than average single-family homes. Conversely, lower income and
less educated people are more likely to be renters and to be less well informed about energy
issues.3*32
The findings about program participant characteristics suggest that audit programs do not
tFindings are presented by region because the EIA survey found significant differences in the characteristics of housing
stocks by rigion. The North Central housing units were three times more likely to have storm windows, storm doors and
attic insulation than units in the South. Units in the West had these insulating materials only one quarter as often as units
in the North Central region.
SEIA responserates were also much higher(90.5%)than rates for SCL (60%) and NSP (44%) nonparticipants. In both
the SCL and NSP surveys, the sample of nonparticipants was probably more like program participants than a truly
representative sample of nonparticipants would be. That is, the nonparticipants who responded to the SCL and NSP
surveys probably had a greater interest in conservation than the general population of nonparticipants.

Review

of utility

home energy

629

audit programs

reach those households that are most in need of the service. The national EIA surveyjo showed
that the energy efficiency of a home increased as family income increased. Fifty-five per cent of
households with incomes above $25,000 for example, had attic insulation, storm doors and
storm windows. Only 20% of poor households had all three types of insulating materials.
The authors know of no utility home energy audit program which has successfully attracted a
large number of low income participants.
3.6 Energy sauings
Only three of the utilities contacted had published information on the energy saved because
of the programs they had implemented. These evaluations were conducted by the Tennessee
Valley Authority, Seattle City Light? and Pacific Gas and Electric (see Ref. 3 for a detailed
description and critique of these evaluations).
The evaluation of TVAs program showed that households participating in the program had
reduced heating and cooling energy consumption. Only households that participated in both the
energy audit and the loan provision were included in the sample. As a result, all households in
the sample had added attic insulation. After insulation was added, average electric consumption
for heating decreased 21%; consumption for cooling decreased 17% and the total weatherrelated consumption decreased 20%.
Seattle City Lights analysis of energy savings consisted of two parts. The first part examined
fuel consumption records for 30 audited all-electric homes and covered only two months of
post-audit data (October and November 1978). The second part included four more audited
all-electric homes (for a total of 34), and also included audited homes heated with gas (40) and
oil (30).+ In the second part of the anaiysis, the time period was extended through July 1979. in
both parts of the analysis it was demonstrated that all-electric homes exposed to the program
did save more energy than nonexposed households. For the period through July 1979, audited
homes reduced electric consumption by an average of 8.6%. while nonparticipating households
increased consumption by 0.5%.
Pacific Gas and Electric assessed energy savings for each of three groups they used during
their study. The three groups were: (1) those having an in-home energy analysis by an auditor,
(2) those doing their own audits using a booklet and form distributed by PG&E, and (3) a
control group not exposed to any audit. The results showed no difference in the change in
energy consumption among the three groups from pre- to post-analysis. This finding indicates
that no group saved significantly more or less energy than any other group.
4. CONCLUSIONS

The major objective of this paper was to examine the operations and effectiveness of existing
utility home energy audit programs. A number of insights into these programs were obtained:
(1) Four audit programs reported having reached more than 10% of their eligible customers.
Most utilities reported participation rates of less than 5% for the entire program lifetime.
(2) Participation rates can bz increased by careful staging and coordination of advertising
campaigns and by making the process of obtaining an audit as easy and convenient as possible.
(3) Audit pa:ticipants are not a cross section of the general population; participants have
higher incomes, education and interest in conservation than do nonparticipants.
(4) Participants probably have more energy-efficient homes and probably have taken more
pre-audit conservation actions than have nonparticipants.
(5) Both participants and nonparticipants are more likely to install inexpensive energy
conservation measures (e.g. caulking and weatherstripping) than expensive measures (e.g. storm
windows).
(6) Programs participants generally take more conservation actions than do nonparticipants.
The most obvious shortcoming of existing programs is a failure to reach low-income and
energy-inefficient households. Identifying and designing strategies to reach households with the
greatest need for improvements in energy efficiency is a crucial task for future programs.
Choice of the best target population for these programs depends on identifying households
tNet savings in fuel consumprlon
these results questionable
(Ref 91.

for both gas and oil heated

audited

home< were shown:

but poor data quality

makec

630

E. HIRSTet al.

with the greatest potential for saving energy. Available evidence suggests that low-income
households have the least energy-efficient houses. It is possible, however, that high-income and
high-consumption households are a suitable target population too. A small improvement in
efficiency for such large users may produce as much energy saving as a large improvement in
efficiency for small users. Further research is needed to identify which residential market
segments have the greatest potential for reducing energy consumption. Potential for reducing
consumption is a function of housing stock characteristics, current usage patterns and motivational factors. Once those residential sectors with the greatest potential are identified, strategies
for obtaining their participation in programs must be devised.
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