How to Save With Investments in Energy Efficiency.
Improving energy efficiency is a smart investment for nearly any operation. Over time, such investments help reduce your ongoing energy costs.
Here's one way for agricultural producers and rural small businesses in Nebraska to save on the upfront costs of that investment. If you aren't already looking into the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), it's time you did.
Benefits of REAP
Consider energy efficiency projects (to purchase/install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements) supported through REAP, which:
- provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses
- helps increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy / ease the burden on the electricity grid
- can lead to improvements in the broader financial situation of farms and rural communities
Yes, but can my operation benefit?
According to estimates, more than half of the energy produced in the United States is wasted somewhere in the process of production, distribution and consumption. In 2012, U.S. manufacturing was responsible for 25%* of our country's energy use. Throughout the manufacturing process, energy is lost due to equipment inefficiency and mechanical and thermal limitations.
Clearly, there are opportunities out there to save energy – and money. Understanding how energy is used and wasted can help your operation pinpoint areas of energy intensity and ways to improve efficiency.
Even small improvements in efficiency - due to the widespread application of crosscutting systems like combustion, distributed energy, fuel and feedstock flexibility - can yield large energy savings. Opportunities also exist to save energy/money running and maintaining computer systems, servers, and associated high-performance components.
First step to savings
Take a closer look at REAP. You'll see that one of the qualifications for receiving a USDA loan or grant through REAP is to have a 3rd party conduct an energy audit. This is where Nebraska MEP can help - it involves an introductory meeting and a review of existing systems to determine where improvements are needed.
Let's talk about an energy audit for your operation soon (REAP grant applications are due October 31, 2016). It's the first step toward saving money on energy efficiency.
*U.S. Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook. Residential, Commercial, & Industrial Demand Sector Data Tables