Estimating the Impacts of Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Using a Randomized Research Design

September 11, 2009 - 12:00pm

We describe the rationale and methodology for using a randomized trial to develop accurate measures of the causal impacts of the Federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) on household-level metrics, such as energy consumption. The Department of Energy is also planning to use observational approaches to estimate the impact of WAP. These approaches compare the consumption of households participating in WAP to the consumption of non-participating households. An advantage of such approaches is that they can be implemented at arm's length, ex post, and on a large scale. A limitation, however, is that they may deliver biased estimates of program impacts if participating and non-participating households differ in systematic ways. Randomized trials establish treatment and control groups that are equivalent in expectation by design. We are working with the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Labs to implement a randomized encouragement design to evaluate WAP. Our primary objective is to generate precise, unbiased estimates of household-level energy savings in several geographic regions. These estimates can in turn be used to investigate systematic variation in how different types of households respond to weatherization interventions and as an input into more comprehensive analyses of program cost effectiveness. We will also describe how we can hope to augment the study design so as to investigate potential non-energy benefits of weatherization and behavioral factors that may affect households' propensity to enroll in WAP. For more information about this seminar, please contact: Rick Diamond(510) 486-4459

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