Vice President Biden announced a new program that aims to give homeowners reliable and clear information about the energy efficiency of their homes.
The Home Energy Score pilot program is built around reports that will give an efficiency score between 1 and 10, as well as comparisons with other homes in the region.
The reports also include customized, cost-effective recommendations for reducing home energy costs.
Another key feature of the program is that low-interest loans of up to $25,000 will be available through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)’s new PowerSaver loan program. Federally insured loans for energy efficiency upgrades will be available for terms of up to 15 years.
Homeowners will be able to use the loans to finance the home improvements of their choice--including insulation, duct sealing and efficient doors, windows, HVAC systems and water heaters--based on a list of proven, cost-effective measure developed by FHA and DOE.
The Department of Energy also released the Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades, a comprehensive set of guidelines for workers in the residential energy efficiency industry. The guidelines are meant to develop and expand the skills of the workforce, ensuring the quality of the work performed, while laying the foundation for a more robust worker certification and training program nationwide.
Vice President Biden made the announcement at a Middle Class Task Force event, highlighting the progress that has been made on implementing the recommendations of last year's Recovery through Retrofit report.
"The Home Energy Score will help make energy efficiency easy and accessible to America's families by providing them with straightforward and reliable information about their homes' energy performance and specific, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements that will save them money on their monthly energy bills," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Under the Home Energy Score pilot program, trained and certified contractors will use a standardized assessment tool developed by DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to quickly evaluate a home and generate useful, actionable information for homeowners or prospective homebuyers.
With only about 40 inputs required, the Home Energy Scoring Tool lets a contractor evaluate a home's energy assets, like its heating and cooling systems, insulation levels and more, in generally less than an hour, DOE said.
A score of "10" represents a home with excellent energy performance, while a "1" represents a home that will benefit from major energy upgrades.
Along with the score, the homeowner will receive a list of recommendations for home energy upgrades and other useful tips. For each specific improvement, the estimated utility bill savings, payback period, and greenhouse gas emission reductions are included.
The Home Energy Score initially will be tested with local government, utility, and non-profit partners in ten pilot communities across the country, located in both urban and rural areas that cover a wide range of climates. During this test phase, the Department and its partners will gauge how homeowners respond to the program, and whether the information encourages them to get energy improvements done on their homes.
After the pilot tests conclude in late spring 2011, DOE expects to launch the Home Energy Score nationally later next year.
The following states and municipalities are participating in the pilot program: Charlottesville, Virginia; Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; Minnesota; Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Indiana; Portland, Oregon; South Carolina; Texas; and Eagle County, Colorado.
The Alliance to Save Energy applauded the announcement. “Until today,” Callahan continued, “no single major program has been able to break down the barriers to home energy retrofits by providing up-front information and financing to homeowners,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan.
Learn more about each of the testing locations along with details on how to participate at the link below.