Low-income energy efficiency programs, including weatherization, often work separately from other energy efficiency programs. In some states, they both report their results separately and are run by different organizations.
Their funding sources are also typically different from other utility-sector energy efficiency programs. Low income programs typically receive a large share of funding from federal sources (such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program). Also, these programs leverage utility ratepayer funding as well as state and local government funding. Low-income programs also typically include an expanded set of goals – not just energy savings but also health, safety and affordability.
Weatherization programs have become more visible during the federal and local economic recovery projects during and after 2009. Part of the 2009 federal economic stimulus focused on weatherization. Weatherization can generate many jobs at intermediate skill levels. These jobs boost local economies and cannot be outsourced.
Low-income programs have both financial and social benefits. Since their funding is generally justified on the basis of broader social value (as compared to a narrower utility or program perspective), they are not necessarily required to meet the same cost-effectiveness criteria as other energy efficiency programs are.
Economically and socially, low-income programs offer significant non-energy benefits that go beyond reducing customer bills. Utilities benefit if customers can pay their bills more easily, yielding fewer arrearages and disconnections. Improved home comfort and safety is valuable to both low-income households and the larger community.