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03/03/2010 11:52 AM     print story email story  

Obama Proposes 'Homestar' Rebates for Energy Efficiency Retrofits

SustainableBusiness.com News

During a visit to a technical school in Savannah, Georgia on Tuesday, President Obama announced the initiatives for HOMESTAR, a program that would offer incentives for people to make their homes more energy-efficient.

The President explained that the new program will save families several hundred of dollars on utilities, make the economy less dependent on fossil fuels, create work for small businesses and contractors, and bring back construction jobs.

In his State of the Union address, Obama called on Congress to pass a program of incentives for homeowners who make energy efficiency investments in their homes. The Senate Democratic leadership included a proposal of this kind as part of their Jobs Agenda released in February.

The president's proposal for the program is similar to the Cash for Clunkers program. Consumers would be eligible for direct HOMESTAR rebates at the point of sale for a variety of energy-saving investments in their homes. A broad array of vendors, from small independent building material dealers, large national home improvement chains, energy efficiency installation professionals and utility energy efficiency programs (including rural utilities) would market the rebates, provide them directly to consumers and then be reimbursed by the federal government.

With unemployment in the construction sector near 25% and with substantial underutilized capacity in the sector, the administration said the HOMESTAR program has the potential to jumpstart economic recovery by boosting demand for energy efficiency jobs, products and installation services.

The White House blog drew attention to the fact taht energy-efficient windows or insulation are products that are almost exclusively manufactured in the United States of America.

Through the HOMESTAR Program, homeowners who make investments for energy-efficiency in their homes will be eligible to receive:

  • Direct rebates for energy-saving investments
  • 50% rebates for the cost of each upgrade up to $1500
  • Rebates up to $3000 for those who choose to retrofit their whole homes

The program would require that contractors be certified to perform efficiency installations. Independent quality assurance providers would conduct field audits after work is completed to ensure proper installation so consumers receive energy savings from their upgrades. States would oversee the implementation of quality assurance to ensure that the program was moving the industry toward more robust standards and comprehensive energy retrofit practices.

The program would include support to State and local governments to provide financing options for consumers seeking to make efficiency investments in their homes. 

The White House said the program will result in the creation of tens of thousands of jobs while achieving substantial reductions in energy use--the equivalent of the entire output of three coal-fired power plants each year. Consumers in the program are anticipated to save between $200-$500 per year in energy costs, while improving the comfort and value of their homes.   

Read additional coverage at the link below. 

Website: planetark.org/wen/56957



Reader Comments (2)

Author:
Candice

Date Posted:
03/04/10 10:52 AM

Through the HOMESTAR program, U.S. homeowners will now have more means to make home improvements to conserve energy. One of the best way to save money from your cooling or heating system is with the use of window tints. For example, solar control windows tints moderates the sunlight entering your home while balancing the room temperature and capable of blocking up to 99% of UV rays. For each degree you raise or lower your thermostat, you can save anywhere from 1 to 5 percent on your cooling or heating bills depending on where you live. You can find our more about window tints at www.TintBuyer.com. They provide relevant information about window tints such as its types, prices in the market, and help locate the best professional tinter near you.

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Author:
Ken B

Date Posted:
03/19/10 02:54 PM

We recently had an energy audit conducted on our house and did a lot of weatherization work on it. Contrary to what Candice stated above, if you already have double pane windows in your house, replacing windows and doors probably IS NOT the best use of your money. In our case upgrading our windows to Low-E energy efficient windows would have had a return of investment of 1.4% and would have taken 72+ years to pay themselves back. The best use of our money was to simply insulate the attic and our rim joists and reducing air heat loss (sealing wall/ceiling joints, putting gaskets behind electrical wall plates, sealing window/door trim, etc.). Our energy audit projected a ROI 34.8% with a payback of 2.9 years on properly insulating our attic, and a ROI of 29.5% with a payback of 3.4 years for reducing air heat loss. Window and door sellers go all out to sell replacing windows and doors with new energy efficient ones, but it must be understood that in the most extreme cases, going from a single pane of glass to a triple pane Low-E II window only takes that window from an R-1 to an R-3.5 in a best case scenario. The best time to install energy efficient windows and doors is either when a house is first being built OR when the existing windows/doors need to be replaced because they have reached the end of their useful service life. If you really want to make the money you are going to spend on weatherizing your home to provide you the biggest possible savings, first get a full blown energy audit conducted on your house by a certified energy auditor and make sure they provide you with a report that projects out the return on investment for each weatherization project. Short of doing this, almost all homes will see the greatest return on investment by first focusing on insulating the attic (up to 15"), sealing and insulating the rim joists, and sealing as many drafts as possible. Often times, windows and doors can be effectively sealed using weather stripping. Remember windows and doors might have the biggest appearance improvement, but properly insulating a house first will save the most money in energy costs. This savings can be used to pay for new windows/doors later. You will find a link to the energy audit that was done on our house as well as its ROI calculations at: http://environmentalchemistry.com/gogreen/ecorenovation/70shouse/

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