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Workforce housing is the new hot topic for rural communities. Rural population is declining, and many towns are taking a hard look at what they have to offer for housing, how to attract employees to expand their existing commercial base and entice new companies. While available housing is lacking in many rural communities, those affected are commissioning housing studies and making plans to address the need for apartments, new housing and eliminating residential blight.

The Model Housing program is being revamped to encourage new homes built in rural areas to feature electric HVAC systems (geothermal or ENERGY STAR® air-source heat pump) and electric water heating.

It is a promotional tool to create awareness of the benefits of an electric home with ENERGY STAR and other advanced efficiency equipment. The program provides a $5,000 bonus – a cost that is shared between Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) and the participating electric cooperative — on top of equipment rebates, to either the homeowner and/ or builder for allowing public access and promotion of the home.

“In rural areas, it can be difficult to attract new members,” says East-Central Iowa REC Director of Member Service Adam Albertsen. “This program can be just the incentive they need to make a project happen. The key is getting in front of the member and builder ahead of time to lay out the cost differential and demonstrate the advantages of an all-electric, energy-efficient home.”

The new marketing campaign, Savings with Staying Power, is helping spread the word to contractors and real estate agents within CIPCO’s member system about the benefits of electric heating options.

Cheri Monahan is the manager of growth strategies for CIPCO, an Iowa-based generation and transmission electric cooperative. CIPCO and its 13 member co-ops serve more than 300,000 Iowans in 58 Iowa counties.

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