Evaluation of the Nebraska Dollar and Energy Savings Loan Program
The Nebraska Dollar and Energy Savings Loan Program was designed in 1990 to make low interest loans available to finance home, building and system energy improvements. Loans have been made to residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers, typically for heating, cooling, windows, siding or insulation. The Public Policy Center worked with the Raikes School of Computer Science and the Bureau of Sociological Research to examine the economic and environmental impacts of these investments by estimating their annual and cumulative energy savings, measured in dollars and energy use. These impacts were generated through a combination of job and output increases in loan supported sectors and losses in energy production sectors. The program also impacted consumer spending, such that fewer dollars will be available for household spending through the life of the loan. However, more dollars will be available once the loan is completed and energy expenditures fall.
Since energy use depends on weather, the first step in the analysis was to break the state into weather zones. Once the zones were identified, initial samples of loans were developed for each of the major improvement types and each of the customer classes. The University of Nebraska’s Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR) surveyed individuals from those samples to determine if their businesses, households and/or living conditions changed materially up to 12 months either before or after the improvements and if so, these structures were filtered from the sample. Energy consumption for the filtered samples was obtained from local utilities for the 12 months before and after each improvement and were compared to expected energy use. The combined data allowed us to measure the energy savings associated with each investment, which was then translated into dollar savings. A cost calculator was developed to estimate energy savings in the future.