Energy Conservation:

Federal Home Energy Audit Program Has Not Achieved Expectations

RCED-87-38: Published: Dec 30, 1986. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1986.

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GAO provided information on the Department of Energy's (DOE) Residential Conservation Service Program (RCS), specifically: (1) its potential for achieving energy savings; (2) its costs and benefits, including measured energy savings; and (3) utilities' implementation efforts and adoption of other residential conservation programs.

GAO found that: (1) in 1984, 86 percent of single-family homes were less than fully insulated, since they did not have a combination of attic insulation, wall insulation, and storm windows on 90 percent of their windows; (2) only 5.9 percent of eligible customers have participated in RCS, which is lower than the DOE estimate; (3) through 1985, DOE, states, and utilities spent about $521 million implementing RCS, of which utilities spent 94 percent; (4) the increase in residential customers' utility bills ranged from $.01 to $2.85 per customer in 1985; (5) states and utilities experienced improved utility-customer relations and increased conservation awareness by participants as a result of RCS; (6) utilities inserted notices in customer bills to announce the program; (7) utilities with higher participation rates used more marketing strategies, charged customers less for audits, and spent more per eligible customer to implement the program than utilities with lower participation rates; and (8) most utilities offered other residential conservation programs, including weatherization and less comprehensive home energy audits.

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