Electric companies face a significant challenge today—meeting a continuously growing demand for power. That's why many of these companies offer programs and incentives to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use. Examples of programs and services include:
- Energy-efficiency rebates to make high-efficiency appliances, including lighting, air conditioning, and refrigeration, more affordable.
- Low-interest loans for financing the purchase of high-efficiency equipment.
- Online energy audits to analyze a home's energy use and offer recommended adjustments.
- Home construction programs to encourage builders to use energy-saving designs and specify high-efficiency appliances and equipment in new homes.
- Demand response programs to encourage customers to reduce their electricity use during peak periods.
These programs have resulted in significant energy savings. In 2010, electric utilities saved 87.8 billion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity through energy-efficiency programs—breaking the record of 77.9 billion kWh set in 2009, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Between 1989 and 2010, electric company energy-efficiency programs saved 1,171 billion kWh of electricity. That's enough electricity to power nearly 102 million average U.S. homes for one year.
Help for Low-Income Customers
Low-Income Energy Assistance
Low-income customers are the most vulnerable to fluctuating energy prices, and often must choose between paying their energy bills or buying food and medicine. Increased funding for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is the most immediate way to guarantee those in need will have energy assistance this winter.
In addition, utility companies have created programs to help low-income customers, including billing assistance, weatherization help, community development and outreach, and more. Many of these companies also establish fuel funds to help those in need with their utility bills, weatherization repairs, and other programs, at a cost of over $1 billion annually.