The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report which examined the effectiveness of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provided $5 billion to WAP to help low-income families make long-term energy efficiency improvements to their homes. One of the requirements of ARRA’s funding was for GAO to conduct bimonthly reviews of how recipients such as state-level agencies use the act’s funds.

The GAO report, “Recovery Act: Progress and Challenges in Spending Weatherization Funds”, finds that as of September 2011, 58 state-level grant recipients have been awarded $4.75 billion by DOE of which 73 percent or $3.46 billion has been spent. DOE expects to meet or exceed its production target of 607,000 weatherized homes and spend most of the act’s funds. This is due to many recipients having exceeded production targets because of a lower average cost of weatherizing homes and lower training and technical assistance expenses than previously anticipated.

The report also finds that the stated goal of WAP to increase energy efficiency through cost-effective weatherization work could very well be achieved. An Oak Ridge National Laboratory March 2010 study about WAP indicates that the energy savings realized by the program will likely exceed program costs where every $1 spent would result in nearly $2 in energy savings over the useful life of the investment.

GAO makes no new recommendations in this report but provides the status of prior recommendations that remain open.

To read GAO’s report, click here.