Slow Progress and Uncertain Energy Savings in Program To Weatherize Low-Income Households

Gao ID: EMD-80-59 May 15, 1980

As required by Federal legislation, a review was undertaken of the Department of Energy's (DOE) weatherization assistance program and its covered activities during fiscal year 1978. Through fiscal year 1978, DOE and the Community Services Administration (CSA) administered nearly identical low-income weatherization programs. However, in fiscal year 1979, the CSA low-income weatherization program was not funded, and DOE was given full responsibility for weatherizing the homes of low-income persons to reduce high utility bills and conserve energy. The DOE program is administered on a decentralized basis through 10 regional offices. Moreover, grant funds are provided to the States which, in turn, redistribute the money to local administering agencies for program implementation.

Although the Low-Income Weatherization Program of DOE could go a long way toward conserving energy and reducing the utility bills of people least able to afford them, the Program has been hampered by: (1) a lack of procedures for selecting homes; (2) problems in obtaining sufficient labor; (3) a lack of emphasis on rental units; (4) legal limits on administrative expenses at the local level; and (5) inadequate financial management and program monitoring at the Federal, State, and local levels. Additionally, only about 96,000 homes, as opposed to the estimated 393,000 homes, were reported by DOE as weatherized through December 31, 1978; and even this figure is overstated because it includes homes weatherized under the CSA program.


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