Housing News

Let Cash for Caulkers Take Effect!

A call for the Senate to speed up the passage of a pending bill

Millions of homeowners are awaiting the enactment of the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 or better known as “Cash for Caulkers”. The act is set to be a landmark provision for contractors and homeowners alike who will be renovating homes to make them more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. According to the Committee on Energy and Commerce website, H.R. 5019 “is designed to spur home energy retrofits by providing rebates to homeowners who install energy-saving products, such as insulation, windows, doors, and heating systems. Home Star is expected to allow 3 million families to retrofit their homes to be more energy efficient. Consumers are predicted to save $9.2 billion on their energy bills over the next 10 years as a result of Home Star’s energy efficiency investments. And, Home Star will create 168,000 new jobs here in the United States. Construction jobs cannot be outsourced and more than 90 percent of energy efficiency technologies are manufactured here in America.”

Last week, the Congress finally passed this bill in an effort to begin what would be a short-term rebate plan that is expected to restore employment and at the same time, be beneficial for the planet. And what a better way to justify this passage but to cite its potential market. Bloomberg BusinessWeek writes, “There’s little market demand for energy retrofits without subsidies, say contractors and experts in the field. Sealing up a house and upgrading inefficient appliances often costs between $7,000 and $9,000—a tough sell when home values have fallen. Incentives from cities, states, and utilities have proved effective. National numbers are hard to track, but in New York state, one of the largest programs, retrofits increased to 6,300 in 2009, from 2,600 five years earlier.”

If such program is highly needed, then how come we’re still waiting for the Senate to pass this into law? The $6 billion worth of rebates is ready, the number of certified contractors have already doubled up, and even the millions of homeowners are awaiting the go signal to spruce up their insulation, duct sealing, windows and doors, window films, air sealing, and water heaters for up to $3,000 in rebate or a comprehensive energy review and implement a full plan to reduce energy use for up to $8,000 in refund. Apparently, they have to wait until June before the impact of this plan can create a wave of benefits.

I’m calling our lawmakers to stop wasting time deliberating a plan that has massive effects to the economy and environment. In the words of Kate Johnson, Sierra Club National Clean Energy representative, “Home Star now moves to the Senate, where passage would allow hard-hit consumers to save money immediately on their energy bills. Making our homes and buildings more energy efficient is the cleanest, cheapest, and fastest way to reduce emissions and lessen our dependence on oil and coal. Home Star would quickly create tens of thousands of much-needed jobs. We now look to the Senate for swift passage of this energy-saving, job-creating bill.”

For more on the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010, here’s a link to the full bill text .

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