Today, President Obama announced the details of the HOMESTAR program, otherwise known as "Cash for Caulkers." The president said the home retrofit program would create construction jobs, reduce the nation's energy use equal to the output of three coal power plants, save participating households $200-$500 per year in energy costs and support energy efficiency innovation.
The program basically includes rebates for energy efficiency improvements that are given at the time of purchase, much like how "Cash for Clunkers" worked. Here are some details of the program.
- Small-scale upgrades like insulation, duct sealing, water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing and doors would be eligible for 50 percent rebates up to $1,500 or combined upgrade rebates of up to $3,000.
- Entire-home retrofits would be eligible for a rebate of $3,000 towards an energy audit and upgrades amounting to 20 percent energy savings. Any savings over that would be eligible for more rebates.
- Safeguards would be put in place to ensure that the upgrades actually improve efficiency: all contractors must be certified in energy efficient installations and independent auditors will perform surveys to make sure upgrades were installed correctly and are saving energy.
- The program would also help state and local governments create financing options for these retrofits so more consumers can participate.
The program will have to get through Congress, but hopefully with the promise of boosting the economy and creating jobs, it will be attractive enough to legislators to pass.
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