RecoverIR™ Blog

Discussion of Discovery & Recovery of Lost Energy
Two Metrics to Monitor the President's Weatherization Assistance Program Waste
Published by R. G. Lucas in Weatherization • 3/10/2011
A. Two Verifiable Metrics to Monitor Actual Weatherization Effectiveness

There are only two verifiable metrics to monitor the effectiveness of weatherization improvements:

1. Conducting aerial infrared surveys before and after weatherization efforts and normalizing those surveys to seasonal temperature variations, and
2. Comparing the normalized weighted total of all energy bills before and after any weatherization efforts.

We do not believe there is any other way to accurately validate the financial and energy effectiveness of any weatherization program, without using a “before baseline” and “after action metric” to create a scientifically and financially verifiable set of metrics.

B. As a Nation, We Do Not Have the Resources or Verification Systems to Responsibly Implement Weatherization

The DOE Weatherization Program has been in existence for at least 15 years, yet in 2009 according to a U.S. GAO report

“…only 2 percent of the $5 billion allocated for weatherization assistance had been spent (about $113 million), and 1 percent of the proposed 593,000 housing units has been weatherized”.

One could ask, if there were an adequate number of licensed (Davis-Bacon compensated) professionals, why is the DOE Weatherization Program moving so slowly? How can our governments adequately minimize new (and old) contractor fraud?

On 21 December 2009, Leslie Page of CAGW reported,

“The President’s newest weatherization brainstorm prompted CAGW to go back and find out how the stimulus bill’s WAP program was going almost one year after its enactment. As of September 30, 2009, according to a December 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, only 2 percent of the $5 billion allocated for weatherization assistance had been spent (about $113 million), and 1 percent of the proposed 593,000 housing units has been weatherized…. The WAP is so exposed to waste, fraud and mismanagement that the Energy Department has begun hiring one program officer for each state, the District of Columbia, and all of the recipient Indian tribes, just to help monitor the expenditure of funds.”

C. Should We be Concerned about Weatherization Fraud?

As of 3 Jan 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) posted the following FAQ on their Weatherization web page:

“3. Will DOE require new performance metrics based on energy savings, energy efficiency, or other outcomes of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)?
Not at this time. DOE is in the process of conducting a new national evaluation of the WAP. In addition to the traditional metrics, this effort will expand to include emphasis on bill reductions. In the near future, DOE will focus more on non-energy benefits such as carbon reduction and health and safety impacts.”

A November 17, 2009 New York Times article by David Leonhardt detailed many of the complications and pitfalls associated with implementing such a plan to ensure its effectiveness.

“He first noted that homeowners already have numerous incentives to weatherize their homes (such as dramatically lower energy bills) and they are not doing it. Leonhardt retained an energy auditor (at a cost of $400) who gave him a detailed plan on which weatherization upgrades for his own home were worth the cost. The auditor told him that it would be a waste of money to install new windows, which President Obama alluded to in his Home Depot address as one weatherization option. Overall, the auditor recommended $4,500 worth of work, but the energy savings would only amount to $400 a year, meaning that Leonhardt, or someone with similar work done on a home, would have to wait more than a decade for the weatherization investment to pay off.”

On 28 December, the lieutenant governor of Tennessee called the weatherization program a

“ ‘recipe for disaster,’ saying it was susceptible to fraud and abuse.”

Drew Griffin and Scott Bronstein of a CNN Special Investigation Unit reported on 14 April 2009,

“ ‘I mean, you’re talking about billions of dollars for this program. The potential for fraud and abuse and losses is going to make [Hurricane] Katrina look like a picnic,’ said Leslie Paige, of the Washington-based watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste….In the past 15 years, prosecutors in Alabama, Ohio and New Jersey have brought criminal charges against people accused of misappropriating money from federally funded weatherization programs, CNN research has found….In North Carolina, auditors found that $1.4 million in federal funds went back to Washington in 1999 after state officials lost track of the money, and a 2007 audit in Pennsylvania found the program there was plagued by “poor administration, inadequate funding and insufficient manpower.’…The Department of Energy oversees federal weatherization assistance programs, which date back to 1976. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has warned that project managers must keep an eye out for fraud in the program, and Gregory Friedman, the department’s inspector-general, told a congressional committee earlier this month that his office has begun working with state auditors to monitor how stimulus money gets spent — “most notably in the area of weatherization.”

External References

>> Stimulus steers billions to ‘weatherizing’ homes by Drew Griffin and Scott Bronstein, CNN Special Investigations Unit, April 14, 2009
>>Weatherization is an all American fraud Posted on March 12, 2009 by Pavan Gupta
>> 2009 Recovery Act — Frequently Asked Questions about Weatherization
>> Weatherization Program Ramping Up, Says It’s Secure From Fraud
>> Weatherization: More Clouds on the Horizon by Leslie Paige, of CAGW, December 21, 2009
>> A Stimulus That Could Save Money by David Leonhardt of The New York Times, 17 Nov 2009

Which is Better for Job Creation and Reducing Dependence on Foreign Oil? Weatherization or Stopping Energy Thieves?
Published by R. G. Lucas in Weatherization • 1/10/2011 8:42:33 PM
The goals of this article are consistent with President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Message where he described, * A vision for a clean energy economy. “…to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, and more incentives.” We will build on the historic $80 billion investment made through the Recovery Act. The President’s vision includes investments in important technologies to … reduce our dependence on foreign oil…”
Why Aerial Infrared Surveys can Dramatically Increase ROI for President Obama’s Weatherization Assistance Program in Each State
Published by R. G. Lucas in Weatherization • 1/10/2011 8:19:13 PM
Why Should We Care about Return on Investment (ROI)

Until RecoverIR’s Targeted Weatherization Inefficiencies Survey (TWIS) Program, no one had figured out to most efficiently baseline weatherization potential, deploy weatherization forces, economically check for weatherization effectiveness, and economically check for weatherization fraud after contractor work had been completed.
Breakthrough Technique and Process for Identifying Homes Needing Weatherization
Published by Greg Stockton in Weatherization • 12/16/2009 8:05:40 PM
RecoverIR, Inc. (RecoverIR™) announces the launch of its Targeted Weatherization Inefficiencies Survey (TWIS) Program, to help utilities, cities, counties, states, and the federal government most economically identify which houses, especially in disadvantaged areas, have the greatest need for weatherization and energy efficiency improvements.