Clean Energy Program | Policy Memo

Spurring Weatherization Investments in Rural America

by Jeremy Ershow and Joshua Freed

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In this Policy Memo, Third Way proposes the creation of a new federal program, run through the Rural Utilities Service, to provide low-interest loans to 1.4 million rural households to make energy efficiency improvements, creating 25,000-35,000 jobs each year for the next ten years.

Home weatherization improvements create jobs, lower emissions, and save money for consumers. But for most families, the upfront costs are too big and the payoff takes too long. This proposal would eliminate these barriers at a tiny cost to the federal government by providing rural homeowners low-interest loans through rural electric co-operatives. Homeowners would then repay the loans through their utility bills with the cost of the loan fully off-set by energy savings. And if they move, both the loan and the energy savings could be passed on to the next homeowner.