The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is helping to make the homes of low-income families across the country more energy efficient. The program provides funding to states, which in turn, fund a network of local government and non-profit service providers. Over the past three decades, the program has provided these services to more than 6.4 million low-income households and families.
The cornerstone value of the program is cost-effectiveness. A small investment to upgrade homes can generate permanent energy savings of hundreds of dollars each month for families, reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, and lower ongoing costs to utilities and local governments providing assistance to low-income households.
During routine monitoring of a state weatherization program, a home inspection identified that a new furnace and windows had been installed. The project officer questioned the justification for these measures. Subsequent reviews revealed that the necessary energy audits and analyses had not been completed for the furnace and the windows. In effect, these measures did not have the required Savings to Investment Ratio, i.e., savings generated by each dollar of investment, to justify the costs of installment in this home. While the measures would save energy, they were not verified as cost effective in this home.
Because these costs couldn’t be justified, they couldn’t be paid for with WAP funds. Taxpayers were saved several thousand dollars in inappropriate costs. In response, the state has tightened their review of weatherization work to ensure that this situation does not happen again.