Evaluation of the Operation Insulation Program

Operation Insulation was created in 1983 to assist homeowners in implementing major weatherization improvements. Earlier city major weatherization efforts had assumed that the combination of energy audits and Energy Bank financing would be adequate to motivate homeowners to implement energy improvements. Our experiences from 1980 to 1982, however, showed that in spite of energy audits identifying very cost effective improvements, attractive financing, and a stated intention by homeowners to implement the improvements, a relatively small percentage of homeowners actually followed through and made the improvements. Discussions with a large number of homeowners identified a number of real or perceived barriers, which included:

  • skepticism that weatherization saves energy and pays for itself as an investment.
  • confusion over which energy work should be done, what materials should be used, how much attic venting should be required and other related issues,
  • a cumbersome process for obtaining bids which often are based upon conflicting installation standards, and which can often vary by a factor of 2:1,
  • fear or mistrust of insulation contractors,
  • lack of a mechanism to check the quality and completeness of contractor work,
  • concerns about the aesthetic impact of insulation work, especially in stucco buildings.
  • lack of financial resources for investments in energy conservation improvements

Operation Insulation was designed to overcome these barriers and thus motivate people to make major weatherization improvements. The OI program helps people prioritize the audit recommendations, simplifies contractor selection by providing a list of city-certified contractors, provides an on-the-spot-not¬to-exceed bid based upon standard contractor prices, and provides a post-installation inspection to inspect the quality of the contractor's work.

The retrofits are paid for by the building owners, the vast majority of whom use Energy Bank financing. In 1985, the Operation Insulation program was expanded to serve rental buildings. To date, more than 4000 buildings, representing 3.5% of the city's total number of 1 - 4 unit residential buildings have been served by OI.

Full report (PDF):
Evaluation of the Operation Insulation Program