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.
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