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Findings Released on PA's Low-Income Energy Efficiency Program

A report  released in January by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) details evaluation results and recommendations for the state's  Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP).

LIURP is a statewide program designed to help low-income households reduce their energy bills and energy consumption through weatherization and education. The program, funded by ratepayer surcharges, is overseen by the  PUC and implemented by individual electric and gas distribution companies.

Households with high energy bill arrearages and high energy consumption are targeted for services. Since the program’s inception in 1988, over $330 million has been spent on weatherization treatments for more than 292,071 households in Pennsylvania; for FY 2007 $28 million was spent providing services for nearly 25,000 households.

The report's findings include:  

  • Sixty-nine percent of LIURP households reduce their energy consumption following weatherization treatments, with an average reduction of 16.5 percent.
  • Thirty-one percent of LIURP households experience no change in energy consumption or increase their energy consumption following weatherization, with an average increase of 19.9 percent.
  • Small multi-unit households are most likely to increase their energy consumption following weatherization.
  • Households receiving gas heating jobs are least likely to increase their energy consumption following weatherization.
  • The greater the energy consumption in the pre-weatherization period, the greater the potential for energy savings.
  • Of those households with energy bill arrearages, 40 percent reduce their arrearage following weatherization services. The greater the energy bill arrearage in the pre-period, the greater the reductions in energy consumption.
  • The more residents in the household, the less the reduction in energy consumption.
  • Removing or replacing inefficient refrigerators or freezers is the greatest contributor to reductions in electric energy consumption.
  • Remedial energy conservation visits for households that fail to reduce their energy consumption are effective at reducing the “rebound” or “take- back” effect. Without such visits, the rebound effect would be considerably higher.
  • The most effective education services are those that are provided as in-home visits; the least effective are mailings and telephone calls. Because the number of people living in a household is negatively associated with both reductions in energy consumption and arrearage, education should involve all members of the household.

Compiled by Penn State University, the report is titled Long Term Study of Pennsylvania's Low Income Usage Reduction Program: Results of Analyses and Discussion. It analyzed data for all households receiving LIURP from 1989 through 2006. It concluded that LIURP is a cost-effective method of reducing both energy consumption and energy bill arrearages, but there is also room for modifications, including placing more emphasis on cooling needs and exploring methods to increase public awareness of the need for energy conservation in general and the existence of LIURP in particular.

For more information on Pennsylvania's efficiency and rate assistance programs, see the latest annual report.

Souce: PA PUC