Energizing the Energy Policy Process: The Impact of Evaluation

By Roberta W. Walsh; John G. Heilman | Go to book overview

terials or information on whom to contact to get assistance in obtaining or installing such materials. Local utility companies and social service agencies played an active role in the planning of both programs and will continue to be involved in their implementation. Evaluation of these programs will be carried out by researchers at the University of Nevada -- Reno and will entail comparing utility records of participants prior to the program with records one year after program completion. This will enable the program planners to determine the effectiveness of the different educational approaches for a general LIHEA population as well as an elderly population.


CONCLUSION

The research reported here provides a rationale for directing residential conservation services to the elderly poor and for designing carefully the way in which such services are delivered. This group of citizens differs from others in some important ways. It has a relatively inflexible need for certain energy-driven conditions, especially well-regulated temperature. Members of this group are relatively likely to have older, less efficient, major appliances; to use these appliances in inefficient ways; to lack knowledge of how to use them efficiently; and to plan to continue using the same appliances rather than buying newer (and more efficient) ones. At the same time, the elderly poor are more reticent than others about getting conservation information and are more sensitive than other groups to the context, and perhaps the supportiveness of the context, in which information is provided.

The question thus arises: How might the results set forth here be translated into the design of programs to help the elderly address their conservation potential, especially the fixed-income, single, relatively isolated, female renters who constitute the majority of respondents to this survey? The section of this chapter dealing with utilization of results reports on two approaches to designing such a program. Drawing on the findings of the market research study, both approaches will emphasize personal contact and service to improve chances of effectively assisting this growing, but often-neglected, group of citizens.

In the research and program design reported here, evaluation both clarified opportunities for energy savings and helped frame appropriate informational programs for the elderly poor. Implicit in these uses of evaluative research is a commitment to the employment of public resources to serve the needs of these members of the community. Evaluation in this case brings "values" to policy design in a double sense -- both in terms of the balancing of possible benefits against costs, and in terms of program worthiness in light of the moral values of the community.

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