LIHEAP Performance Measurement FAQ
Where is there a list of the LIHEAP Performance Measures?
A comprehensive list of LIHEAP Performance Measures (as well as detailed explanations) can be found in the LIHEAP Performance Data Form Instructions, available here.
Is LIHEAP Performance Measure reporting required for all grantees?
No. Currently, only state grantees and the District of Columbia are required to report on LIHEAP Performance Measures
In order to satisfy the Performance Measures requirements, my state will need to develop or update its IT system. How should I report costs for IT system development/updates in my other LIHEAP reports?
States have the option to separate out development costs from ongoing maintenance costs charged to their program versus administration budgets respectively. Alternatively, states can charge the costs all to administration, and the IT costs would not count toward the state’s 10% administration limit. In either case, states should set and follow consistent rules regarding the treatment of different types of IT costs and alert their liaisons accordingly. Please refer to the IM sent by OCS on this issue for more information: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/resource/liheap-im-on-costs-for-planning-and-administration-updated-information.
What form do I use to report the data? Is the form submitted through OLDC like other federal LHEAP forms?
Performance Measurement Data will be reported in required Module II and optional Module III of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form. This form is submitted through OLDC. More information regarding the form, as well as instructions, and a link to OLDC can be found here.
How will my Performance Measures be used to judge my performance?
The proposed Performance Measures are "developmental." OCS is not required to set any benchmarks or targets for LIHEAP while the measures are in the developmental phase. The developmental phase also provides OCS and Grantees an opportunity to analyze the effectiveness of each measure. However, grantees will have the opportunity to compare their performance to the performance of other grantees through the LIHEAP Performance Measurement Data Warehouse.
Where can I learn about how other states are implementing Performance Measures?
The LIHEAP Performance Measures website (https://liheappm.acf.hhs.gov/) provides an opportunity for grantees to explore best practices, tools, and strategies for implementing LIHEAP Performance Measures. The website also includes a forum that encourages grantees to engage with one another on various LIHEAP topics.
How do I use LIHEAP Performance Measures Data in our state program?
There are several different ways that Performance Measure data can be used by grantees. Examples include, but are not limited to reporting, monitoring, benefit targeting, outreach, program evaluation, program development, piloting program alternatives, and service coordination. See the LIHEAP Virtual Library for more details.
Do LIHEAP Performance Measures include households that receive non-LIHEAP benefits (e.g., fuel funds?)
Currently, the LIHEAP Performance Data Form only asks grantees to report on households that receive LIHEAP benefits.
Energy Burden Data (Section V of the Performance Data Form)
How do we define main heating fuel?
For the purposes of reporting LIHEAP Performance Measures, main heating fuel is defined by the household. Therefore, at the time of application, grantees will need to ask each household to identify their primary heating fuel type (i.e., Natural Gas, Electricity, Fuel Oil, Propane, or Other Fuels).
If the client is currently using an alternative source of heat (e.g. electric space heaters) because their main heating fuel has been disconnected or because their main heating equipment is inoperable, they should report their preferred main heating fuel (e.g., natural gas) even if they are not currently using that fuel.
However, if the client prefers to use an alternative sources of heat (e.g., they use their wood stove instead of their fuel oil furnace to save money), they should report their preferred main heating fuel (e.g. wood) even if they sometimes use another fuel (e.g. fuel oil).
How do I calculate "annual household income?"
Annual (12 consecutive months) household income should be calculated in the same way it is calculated for the annual LIHEAP Household Report Form, using gross income.
What do I count in gross annual household income?
What is "counted" in gross household income is defined by the LIHEAP grantee. For Module I of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form, annual household income should be calculated in the same way it is calculated for the annual LIHEAP Household Report.
What do I do with zero income households?
Zero-income households should be reported along with other households in the Performance Measures Data Form as having $0 for annual income However, the energy burden for zero income households should be recorded as 100% of household income when identifying the highest (top 25%) energy burden households for Part C of Section V. Energy Burden Targeting.
What do I do if I collect less than 12 months of income data?
Household income should be annualized the same way it is for the annual LIHEAP household report. If gross household income determinations are made using less than a full year's income for a household, then annualize the months of income used (e.g., 12 times one month of household income, or four times three months of household income).
What are the minimum Energy Bill data requirements?
To complete Section V of the Performance Measures Data Form, grantees are required to collect annual energy bill data from the top five electric vendors, top five natural gas vendors, top ten fuel oil vendors, top ten propane vendors, and top ten other vendors based on the numbers of LIHEAP assisted households within their state. If there are fewer than five utility companies (i.e. electric or gas) or fewer than ten delivered fuel companies (i.e., fuel oil/kerosene, propane, or wood/coal) that serve LIHEAP clients, the grantee only has to report for the companies serving LIHEAP clients. If there are no companies delivering a particular type of fuel to LIHEAP clients (e.g. fuel oil) the grantee does not have to include that fuel in their report.
Some grantees are facing significant challenges in getting agreements with vendors and setting up information exchange systems. Grantees that want to prioritize their work to ensure that the highest priority data is collected should review the Vendor Selection Supplement under the LIHEAP Performance Measures Data Collection Guide. Grantees may also want to refer to the multi-state vendor lists to identify vendors operating in other states, and to reach out to those grantees for advice in the vendor engagement process.
I collect data from all vendors. Should I report on all of these or just the required top five electric, top five natural gas, top ten fuel oil, top ten propane, and top ten "other" vendors?
Data collection requirements are intended to be "minimum" standards. Grantees may opt to collect and report data from additional vendors if they choose.
Do I need to collect energy bill data from Municipal Utilities or Cooperatives?
In most cases, the requirement to work with top five electric, top five natural gas, top ten fuel oil, top ten propane, and top ten "other" vendors reduces the likelihood that grantees will need to collect energy bill data from municipal or cooperative utilities. However, there are some large municipal vendors (e.g., Philadelphia Gas Works) that may be included in grantees' top five companies.
If one holding company owns a number of Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) in the state, should each LDC be counted as a separate vendor or should the state count all holding company LDCs as one vendor?
If the state office has a separate vendor agreement with each company, the grantee has the option of counting each company as separate vendors for the purposes of energy data collection for the LIHEAP Performance Data Form. Grantees should note that, in some cases, setting up data exchanges with parent/holding companies may be more efficient.
How much energy bill data do I need to collect and report for each household?
To complete Section V, Part A of the Performance Data Report Form, grantees will need to collect 12 consecutive months of energy bill data from household's main fuel and electric vendors.
Most utility vendors (e.g. electric and gas companies) issue monthly bills to clients. For those vendors, the grantees should request information on all twelve monthly bills. Some utility vendors issue bimonthly bills. Those six bills would still count as 12 consecutive months of energy bill data.
Many clients who use delivered fuels will get several bills each month during the winter, and only one bill for the entire summer. On the application form, the grantee should ask the client whether they use the same company all year, or if they use more than one company. For those clients who use one company all year round, the grantee should ask the delivered fuel vendor for all bills issued during the target twelve-month period.
When should I collect data from vendors? Annually? At the end of each program year?
There may be variation among grantee timeframes for collecting household energy bills. For example, many grantees find it optimal to collect bill data from vendors at the end of the program year (e.g., request made to vendors in October 2017 for customer bill data from October 2016 through September 2017). This is the least burden option for most grantees.
However, other grantees collect customer bill data from vendors at the time of LIHEAP intake-which may result in 12 months of billing data that falls across more than one program year. This real-time data may furnish the best information with which to determine the optimal targeting of LIHEAP benefits.
States may consider alternative timeframes for obtaining 12 months of billing history, as long as methods are consistent across households and are reported to OCS.
Does the client have be at the same residence for a full year to obtain energy bill data?
In Section V of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form, LIHEAP bill payment assisted households who do not have 12 months of energy cost data would be counted in Part A-but not in Parts B or C of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form.
In most cases, this means that households must be at the same residence in order to obtain energy bill data for LIHEAP Performance Measures. However, in some instances, households may retain the same vendor/account number although they move between residences. The grantee can, at their option, report data for these clients.
What about households where heat is included in rent?
In Section V of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form, LIHEAP bill payment assisted households whose heating/cooling is included in rent would be counted in Part A-but not in Parts B or C. The only exception would be those cases where 12 consecutive months of main fuel and electricity bill data are available for the household.
What do I do if my client changes a vendor during the previous year?
All households receiving bill payment assistance should be counted in Section V, Part A of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form. However, households must have available energy bill data for 12 months to be counted in Section V, Parts B and C of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form.
In some cases, households who change vendors during the previous year may not have 12 consecutive months of data, and therefore, would not be reported in Section V, Parts B and C of the form.
If I only have partial year energy bill data for some households, do I count them in the form?
In Section V of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form, LIHEAP bill payment assisted households with partial energy bill data would be counted in Part A-but not in Parts B or C.
Does client energy bill data include non-usage charges (e.g. reconnection fees)?
Client energy bill data includes all required customer payments, such as monthly service charge, usage charge, and taxes. In addition, to get the best estimate of the client's total energy burden, it is appropriate to include any late payment charges and reconnection fees charged by the vendor.
Deposits for service should not be included in the energy bill data since those funds still belong to the client.
Expenditures should exclude optional charges such as appliance repair contracts, equipment purchases, and other special services.
If my state or energy vendor(s) operate ratepayer/taxpayer energy assistance programs for low-income clients, should I report client's energy charges data before the payment program discount is applied (i.e. total bill) or after the discount is applied (i.e. the amount the client is responsible for paying)?
Whether the grantee reports clients' pre-reduction or post-reduction energy bill data depends on when and how the LIHEAP grant is applied to reduce clients' energy bills. For example:
- In New Jersey, a client applies for LIHEAP and receives a LIHEAP grant, and then the ratepayer funded assistance is applied to the remaining bill. For New Jersey, the state should report the gross charges on the client's account (i.e., the full retail bill).
- In California, the client applies directly for the ratepayer discount (CARE), and then the LIHEAP grant is used to pay the discounted bill. In California, the state should report the discounted charges on the client's account.
Why do I need electric bill data if I'm not giving a LIHEAP benefit toward electric?
When looking at LIHEAP impact on energy burden, it is important to look at the whole residential energy bill for ALL clients, including cooling bills for households that are assisted with natural gas, propane, or fuel oil heating bills AND heating bills for clients that are assisted with cooling costs [i.e., all home energy costs for heating and cooling].
The more the grantee knows about client electric home energy use, the better the grantee can make sure that client electric energy needs are effectively addressed by the program. [Example: For a certain number of clients, portable electric heaters supply a large amount of client heat. That should be taken into account in benefit determination, as well as education and energy efficiency program targeting].
How do I get electric data from utilities when I don't give their customer a LIHEAP benefit?
Appropriate waiver (release) language in the client application, as well as vendor agreements, will allow utilities to release electric cost and/or usage data for customers who do not receive a LIHEAP benefit. Examples can be found at the performance measurement website (Client Waiver Examples).
It is important to help utilities understand that with a better understanding of household energy bills--LIHEAP benefits, education, and energy efficiency programs can be better targeted to electric customers. Therefore, the value to the client and the vendor should outweigh the incremental burden of providing data for customers for whom the vendor did not receive a LIHEAP benefit.
Does Part I of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form capture data on cooling?
All grantees are asked to report on both heating fuel and electric expenditures. This means that in heating states, grantees are also asked to report households' electric energy bills which captures cooling data. Conversely, cooling states are also asked to report on households' heating fuel energy bills, even if households' primary expense is electricity for cooling.
Additionally, grantees have the option of reporting cooling equipment types in optional Module III of the report.
What do I do if some of my selected utilities refuse to provide energy bill data?
Grantees should reach out to their OCS liaison and APPRISE to help identify next steps.
What does top 25% of energy burden mean?
Section V, Part C of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form only includes those households from Part B with the highest (top 25% of) energy burden.
To pull out the highest burden households, grantees will first need to identify the home energy burden of each household reported in Part B. Zero-income households should be coded as having 100% energy burden. These households can then be sorted, and those with the top 25% energy burden are included in Part C.
Instructions for calculating energy burden for households reported in Part B can be found here:
It is important to note that in the instructions, the top 25% refers to the households with the highest energy burden, not to the households in each main heating fuel group with the highest energy burden.
Why can't we use RECS data for some of these fields?
The Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) data can furnish information on LIHEAP benefit targeting and energy burden reduction for the nation, Census regions, and for selected states. However, the data are not available for every state, the data are only collected once every four years, and there is a significant lag between collection and publication of the data (for example, the 2009 RECS data were not published until 2012). Therefore, these data are not suitable for annual performance measurement.
Restoration and Prevention Data (Section VI and Section VII of the Performance Data Form)
In Section VI and Section VII of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form, do I only count households who receive crisis benefits or any LIHEAP benefit?
In Sections VI and VII of the Performance Measures Report Form, grantees should report on the number of occurrences in which a LIHEAP benefit restored or prevented service for ALL LIHEAP assisted households, not just those who received crisis benefits.
In Section VI and VII of the LIHEAP Performance Data Form, do I only count households who have 12-months of consecutive billing data?
Unlike Parts B and C of Section V. Energy Burden Targeting, grantees do not need to adhere to the 12-month billing data requirement when reporting the number of occurrences of restoration and prevention of home energy.
What does "nearly out of fuel" mean?
For the purpose of LIHEAP Performance Measurement, "nearly out of fuel" is to be defined by each grantee. In some cases, criteria may be more specific than others (3 day supply, 20% or less, etc). Please refer to the “Criteria for Determining At-Risk Clients” supplement for more information and examples of other state’s definitions of “nearly out of fuel.”
Are we asking clients to self-report whether they are "nearly out of fuel?"
Why do we need to capture Equipment Repair/Replacement in Sections VI and VII of the Performance Measures Report Form?
A significant cause of home energy loss is related to equipment malfunction or failure. Therefore, it is important to capture equipment repair and replacement when evaluating the impacts of LIHEAP on restoration of home energy and prevention of home energy loss. Please refer to the supplements on “Criteria for Determining At-Risk Clients” and “Criteria for Determining Service Restoration” for more information on how to accurately collect data on equipment repair/replacement.
Do Restoration and Prevention Measures include actions taken by the WAP agency with LIHEAP funds?
Yes. In many cases, LIHEAP funds used for repair or replacement of heating/cooling equipment are administered by weatherization contractors. Therefore, grantees may need to coordinate with their LIHEAP Weatherization partners to establish when LIHEAP funds are used to "restore home energy" versus "prevent home energy loss." Additionally, grantees will also need to coordinate reporting of "Restoration and Prevention" with LIHEAP Weatherization Contractors. This could be as straightforward as asking weatherization contractors to specify on invoices, work orders, or audit reports whether equipment repair/replacement is necessary to restore home energy or prevent home energy loss. Please refer to the supplements on “Criteria for Determining At-Risk Clients” and “Criteria for Determining Service Restoration” for more information on how to coordinate with contractors to verify clients’ home energy status.
What does "inoperable" equipment include?
"Inoperable" heating or cooling equipment includes red-tagged equipment, or equipment that if powered on, will result in injury or death. Households that temporarily heat or cool their home in "some other way" are still considered to have inoperable equipment if they can't use their main system.
When should repair/replacement of "operable" equipment be reported as Prevention?
Repair and/or replacement of "operable" heating and cooling equipment should be reported when it prevents imminent loss of home energy according to the grantee’s definition of “imminent risk.” Refer to the “Criteria for Determining At-Risk Clients” supplement for example definitions.
Does Furnace Maintenance (e.g., Cleaning and Tune-Up) Count as Prevention?
Repair or replacement of operable equipment should not be counted if there is no imminent risk of home energy loss (e.g., energy efficiency repairs, routine maintenance).