This article was originally published in the January/February 1996 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1996


Collaborative Makes Efficiency Programs Efficient

For the past three years, state and utility low-income programs promoting energy efficiency in Iowa have collaborated, extending their reach and saving themselves and their customers money. In 1991, Iowa utilities were required to meet cost-effectiveness guidelines issued by the public utilities commission for their energy efficiency programs. So most of the major investor-owned utilities centralized their contracting through the Division of Community Action Agencies (DCAA), and combined their efforts with the Department of Human Rights, the Iowa Office of Consumer Advocates, and the Department of Energy's Kansas City regional office.

The collaborative allows the utilities and Community Action Agencies (CAAs) to save money in several ways: sharing evaluation costs, purchasing in bulk for standardized conservation measures, contracting through a central party (DCAA), and developing a common format for collecting and reporting data. In addition, the utilities now use the same pricing procedures and eligibility criteria for various measures, which helps the CAAs.

Early in the collaborative, the utilities funded ceiling and attic insulation, low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, pipe wrap, water heater wrap, compact fluorescent lamps, and halogen bulbs. They now also fund waterbed mattress pads and all insulation measures that the Iowa Weatherization Program installs. DCAA, which initially did not fund water heater measures, has added them to the state's program.

The collaboration has extended the reach of the Iowa Weatherization Program to small, electrically heated houses that were previously a low priority. It also allowed the state to shift some of its expenditures from insulation to heating system replacements, health and safety measures, and preservation, since utility funds are allocated to energy measures.

In addition, the collaborative is jointly funding an evaluation of the program, which includes routine collections of data on work performed (completions) and consumption histories, as well as the development of measure-specific energy and demand algorithms, surveys of collaborative members and clients, and an assessment of the economic impacts of the joint program. The evaluation is ongoing and will also examine the National Energy Audit (NEAT), which the CAAs began using in 1993 (see Measuring the Performance of the National Energy Audit, HE May/June '95, p. 35).

Results of the evaluation show that from 1992 through 1994, DCAA spent a total of $18.9 million on weatherization activities and utilities spent $2.85 million. Overall, the program has realized annual savings of 4,100 kWh and 1.87 million therms, and demand impacts of 2,040 kW and 18,900 peak therms. Client bills have decreased by an average of $37 per year for houses that had electricity-saving measures, and by $108 for houses that had natural gas-saving measures.

Although utilities funded about 13% of total costs, their expenditures account for the greatest percentage of energy savings. Electric utility-funded measures account for 56% of electricity savings and 37% of electricity demand savings. Natural gas utility-funded measures account for 28% of annual therm savings and 25% of peak day therm savings. This is consistent with the utilities' goal of providing energy savings, which has allowed the state program to expand into non-energy measures, such as health and safety improvements.

To learn what impacts the program had on the Iowa economy, the DCAA conducted an economic input-output analysis using the IMpact PLANning model (IMPLAN). This analysis showed that total industry output (similar to Gross National Product for Iowa) increased by $1.27 million and by 34.3 job-years for every million dollars spent through the program. For more information, contact Greg Dalhoff at (608)249-9322.

-Greg Dalhoff


Greg Dalhoff is the project evaluator for the Statewide Low-Income Collaborative Evaluation (SLICE) with the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation.



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