This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Energy Department and USDA Partner to Support Energy Efficiency in Rural Communities
By Dr. Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency, and Todd Campbell, alternative energy advisor, USDA
Each year, urban households in the United States combined use more than three times the total energy that rural households use. Yet, the Energy Information Administration estimates that rural families spend about $400 more per year in energy bills compared to the typical urban household. Unlocking new opportunities to save energy will help rural Americans save money while improving our energy security, creating jobs, and protecting our air and water.
We have seen this work firsthand at USDA Rural Development. Through our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), we have partnered with agriculture producers and rural small businesses to construct 6,605 renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects since 2009, providing $213 million in grants and $178 million in loan guarantees. When complete, these projects will be responsible for generating or saving 7.32 billion kWh annually, enough energy to power 680,000 households each year. At the Energy Department, the Weatherization Assistance Program is helping low-income rural households save on their utility bills through a broad range of home efficiency upgrades—from installing insulation to replacing leaking windows to repairing heating and cooling systems. Since the program’s inception in 1976, we’ve helped low-income families permanently reduce their energy bills to the tune of hundreds of dollars per year. This is a good start, but there is much more work that can be done. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.