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Our top 5 energy-efficiency measures + how we can help  

Our top 5 energy-efficiency measures + how we can help

Image: National Rural Electric Cooperatives of America (NRECA)

Energy Efficiency

Why would an electric cooperative offer incentives for members to use LESS of their product?

Because we believe that the greenest kilowatt-hour is the one that you never use.

Your electric cooperative is a not-for-profit providing safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible power to members.

Iowa’s electric cooperatives invested almost $76.7 million over the past five years, contributing to over 3.7 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy savings over the life of the measures installed. This savings represents enough electricity to power more than 347,000 homes for a full year!

We offer a wide variety of ways to save you money on your energy bill; consume electricity more efficiently; and to realize the value that electricity brings to your family, every day. Below is a list of our top five programs designed to help our members do just that. Intrigued? Read on! Want more information? Call our office or visit our website for more information on all energy savings programs available to you.

1. Insulation

blowing insulation into an atticPhoto Credit: NRECA

Properly insulating your home reduces heating and cooling costs and improves comfort. Insulating areas such as ductwork, exterior walls, beneath living spaces, and even around the exterior edge of slab foundations can improve electric efficiency. There are three types of insulation:

• Batt
• Blown-in
• Foam

Some types do a better job of sealing your home and preventing the movement of air from inside to outside. Each type scores a different R-value and recommendations on R-values are subject to regional climate conditions. R-values measure a material's resistance to conductive heat flow. The higher the R-value rating, the greater the effectiveness of the insulation. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy)

If your home or shop is primarily heated or cooled with an electric heat source, your cooperative offers rebates on the installation of insulation. Call our office before you install to learn more about your best insulation options and to make sure your project qualifies for our rebate.

2. Geothermal Heat Pump

Geothermal loop fieldPhoto Credit: Federated Rural Electric Association (MN)

In most areas of the U.S., space heating and cooling account for a large percentage of overall home energy use, so upgrading to a more efficient HVAC system is a great way to reduce your monthly energy bill. A geothermal heat pump, also known as a ground source heat pump, is among the most efficient types of heating and cooling systems you can consider installing in your home. Even when it is extremely hot or cold outside, the temperature a few feet below the surface of the ground remains relatively constant and moderate.

A geothermal heat pump system uses this constant ground temperature to help heat and cool your home through a system made up of three main components:

1. The collector, or loop field, which is in the ground and cycles a liquid, like antifreeze, through dense plastic tubing;

2. The heat pump that is in your home; and

3. The duct system that distributes the heated or cooled air throughout your home.

During the winter, the collector absorbs the heat stored in the ground and the liquid carries that heat to the heat pump, which concentrates it and blows it into the duct work, warming your home. In the summer, the heat pump extracts heat from the home and transfers it to the cooler ground.

Geothermal systems typically cost more than other heating systems, largely because of the collector and the associated digging or drilling, but their high efficiency can help reduce the payback time. Talk with one of our energy advisors who can help you evaluate the different heating and cooling options that would be best for your home and learn more about our other heating and cooling rebate programs and our special electric heat rates.

3. Air Source Heat Pump

2 men looking at an air source heat pumpImage: Marena Fritzler

Air source heat pumps are a very flexible and cost-effective way to heat and cool your entire home; improve comfort in a problem room; or replace an old, tired air conditioner.

In cooling mode, a whole house heat pump will keep you cool and comfortable in the summer. In reverse, when winter arrives, the unit heats your home very efficiently by moving the heat from the outside air into your home. New low temperature heat pumps will keep you warm and cozy when the outside temperatures drop below zero. Your co-op offers rebates for efficient air source heat pumps.

If there are one or two rooms in your existing home that need additional heating and cooling, consider installing a highly efficient mini-split heat pump. These units can heat or cool one to eight rooms without the need to install additional ductwork.

If it is time to replace your air conditioning system on your gas furnace, consider replacing it with an air source heat pump. In cooling mode, the heat pump will keep your home cool and comfortable more efficiently than an air conditioner. In heating mode, it moves heat from the outside air to heat your home using less energy than the most efficient gas furnace. The gas furnace can be left in place to provide back-up heat.

Your co-op offers an enhanced rebate to offset the slightly higher cost of replacing your air conditioner with an air source heat pump. Your co-op also offers rebates to assist you with the purchase of qualified air source heat pumps. In addition, you can save money by enrolling in a special electric heat rate. Contact our office to learn more about the right heat pump for your needs, how to qualify for rebates, and how to obtain the special heat rate.

4. Water Heaters

electric water heater - Touchstone EnergyPhoto Credit: Touchstone Energy

As you can expect, most homeowners don't think much about water heaters. There are times, however, when your attention turns to that most essential of appliances: when an existing water heater breaks (“Brrr. That water is cold!”) or when building or renovating a home. Your water heating choice will have implications for energy efficiency, cost of use, the environment, safety, and reliability.

There are many benefits to choosing an electric water heater. They are: 

1. Safe. There is no threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, combustion, or explosion.

2. Environmentally friendly. In addition, they are capable of using electricity generated from solar, wind, hydro, and other renewable sources.

3. Easy to install. There are no expensive gas lines, exhaust flue, or on-site fuel tanks. And, compared to other fuels, the cost of electricity is stable.

Our co-op offers rebates on qualifying electric water heaters, too! For more information on our programs, call our office and visit with one of our energy experts to understand what unit is right for your home or shop.

5. Electric Vehicle Chargers

electric car in a driveway - NRECAPhoto Credit: National Rural Electric Cooperatives of America (NRECA)

One of the newest additions to our rebate program is the rebate available for the installation of Residential and Commercial/Industrial/Agricultural Level 2 electric vehicle chargers.

The 2018 Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) report projects the number of electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. to grow from 272,000 in 2016 to 26,614,986 in 2050. This represents a 14.7 percent compound annual growth rate.

As a member of our co-op, consider the purchase of an electric vehicle. We now offer rebates that allow for reimbursement toward the purchase of Level 2 electric vehicle chargers for residential use as well as for commercial/Industrial/agricultural use. Contact our office for more details on our program and how to qualify.

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