WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration will make available nearly $3.2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law to help Americans lower home energy costs, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Wednesday.
Low-income Americans spend up to 30% of their paychecks on energy. This investment will help them afford improvements to their homes such as switching to better insulation and ventilation, installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems and upgrading lighting and appliances, she said.
“The $3.2 billion we are mobilizing today is about 10 times what we spend on retrofitting homes every year,” Granholm said. The efficiency improvements will have an immediate impact of helping families save hundreds to thousands of dollars per year in energy bills, she said.
The current government program upgrades 38,000 homes annually. The additional amount will push that to 450,000 homes, she said.
The $3.2 billion will be distributed by the Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which takes applications from states and tribes and territories for the funding to retrofit low-income homes.
In November, President Joe Biden signed into law a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that would create jobs across the country by disbursing billions of dollars to state and local governments to fix crumbling bridges and roads and by expanding broadband internet access to millions of Americans.
In 2021, the average nominal retail electricity price paid by U.S. residential electric customers rose at the fastest rate since 2008, increasing 4.3% from 2020 to 13.72 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=51438 (EIA).
Prices for most types of energy commodities rose significantly in 2021, including the cost of power generation fuels, especially natural gas, which helped push electricity prices higher, the EIA analysis shows.
The United States accounted for about 17% of the world’s primary energy consumption in 2019, the EIA said, but had about 4% of the world’s population.
Biden’s public approval rating fell to a new low of 40%, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted March 21 and 22, a clear warning sign for his Democratic Party as it seeks to retain control of Congress in the Nov. 8 election.
The national poll found that 54% of Americans disapprove of his job performance as the country struggles with high inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed geopolitical concerns to the fore.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)