Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to help rural homeowners lower energy costs by making cost-effective improvements to their homes. Named the Rural Economic Development Energy Efficiency (REDEE) effort, the USDA-DOE partnership is part of a government-wide "Recovery Through Retrofit" initiative announced by Vice President Biden and several cabinet secretaries earlier today.
"This effort will expand green jobs opportunities and boost energy savings by improving home energy efficiency," said Vilsack. "USDA's Rural Development programs are a perfect vehicle for supporting energy efficiency for housing, businesses, farms and utilities."
The upfront costs of energy improvements often stop homeowners from investing in these cost-effective home upgrades. To help them, USDA Rural Development is promoting REDEE, which combines the efforts and funding of the Rural Development's Utilities, Housing and Business program areas.
REDEE will focus on stimulating the energy efficiency improvement market in rural America with the tools created by the "Recovery Through Retrofit" effort. REDEE also builds upon the work that Rural Development has done in providing funding and support for improving the energy efficiency of single and multi-family housing, businesses, farms, and utilities.
USDA will promote the Department of Energy's scoring tool, and use USDA funding for energy efficiency improvements to the homes of rural residents. Trained and certified contractors will use a newly developed energy software tool to generate a report that includes:
A Home Energy Score between 1 and 10, which will give consumers easy to understand information about their home's current efficiency level and how it compares to other homes in the area.
An estimate of how much money could be saved by making energy upgrades and a personalized list of recommended improvements.
These recommendations are ranked according to payback period – how quickly a homeowner can recover the cost of their investment.
Contractors will collect all of the information they need to generate the score and recommendations within a one-hour home walk-through. Qualified rural homeowners would apply for existing Rural Development energy efficiency program funding. The Department of Energy is planning to test the Home Energy Score through a pilot program in select regions.
The eleven Departments and Agencies involved in the "Recovery Through Retrofit" effort are continuing their commitment to strengthen the home energy efficiency improvement industry. The Federal Government is working with industry, academia, training providers, small businesses, and other partners to launch these new tools, programs and efforts to ensure their success. The Obama administration will continue to support the growing home energy improvement market through interagency collaboration and by leveraging existing resources.
Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and nearly 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.