Residential Energy Conservation Outreach Activities--A New Federal Approach Needed

EMD-81-8: Published: Feb 11, 1981. Publicly Released: Feb 11, 1981.

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GAO evaluated the residential energy conservation outreach activities of the Department of Energy (DOE) by examining the contribution that outreach can make in achieving energy conservation, the effectiveness of alternative outreach techniques, and the current program direction and management of DOE.

Consumers need to be aware of their energy conservation opportunities before they can act. If consumers do not have comprehensive information and are not effectively provided such information, the extent to which they can or will realize available energy conservation opportunities will be limited. Combining individualized information with personalized delivery of that information has been shown to result in the greatest amount of voluntary energy conservation by each individual. Conducting outreach activities in this manner can make a fundamental contribution in any approach to achieve greater residential energy conservation. DOE does not have an effective outreach strategy and does not evaluate its outreach activities to determine their impact on consumer conservation. It cannot demonstrate how its outreach programs complement the outreach programs being provided by others. The four major DOE outreach efforts have not been integrated into a cohesive program strategy. DOE has devoted inadequate resources to evaluation. In limited cases where evaluations had been performed, either the procedures were questionable or the results were not applied. The Energy Extension Service (EES) does not effectively coordinate government outreach activities and is carrying out programs similar to ones previously funded.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The administration believes that the EES program should be terminated, and continues to zero out its budget in annual budget proposals.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should elevate the organizational status of the EES program. In carrying out this recommendation, the Secretary should consider the organizational status provided EES in its original legislation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The administration believes that outreach programs are not a proper function for the federal government and has requested no funds for this activity over the past 2 years.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should develop and implement an integrated residential energy conservation outreach strategy which encourages residential consumers to obtain on-site energy audits.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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