May 11, 2010

Help Cash for Caulkers pass the Senate!

by: Taz Loomans

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The Cash for Caulkers bill, or the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, was approved by the House on Thursday May 6 and is expected to pass the Senate this summer.

What is it?

Cash for Caulkers is similar to Cash for Clunkers where you get an instant rebate for making energy efficiency improvements to your home.  There are two levels of rebates you can get:

1.  For the the Silver Star, consumers would be eligible for rebates between $1,000 and $1,500 for a variety of home upgrades, including adding insulation, sealing leaky ducts and replacing water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing and doors. There would be a maximum rebate of $3,000 per home.

2.  For the Gold Star, consumers who get home energy audits and then make changes designed to reduce energy costs by at least 20 percent would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate. Additional rebates would be available for savings above 20 percent up to $8000.

The reason there is a higher level of rebate for people who get the home energy audit is because those audits look at your home as a system and identify how the various components – HVAC system, ducts, windows, water heaters and so forth – can all work together to reduce energy.  So instead of a one-off improvement, you’re making more effective systematic improvements.  I will be sharing more about home energy audits on upcoming blog posts.  Stay tuned!

Why is this good for Phoenix?

1.  A few weeks ago I wrote about Energize Phoenix, which is a grant that the City of Phoenix received to make the Green Rail Corridor more energy-efficient.  It promises to be a great program that has a deeper scope than Cash for Caulkers, but it’s limited to a small area of the city.  Cash for Caulkers, on the other hand, will have a much wider and immediate impact on homes all over the valley, because anyone who owns a home anywhere is eligible for these rebates.

2.  Not only is this good for the individual Phoenix homeowner, who’ll get rewarded for saving energy and money, but it’s good for anyone in the green building industry as well.  This program will create work and demand for the hard-hit construction industry.  Green building consultants, home energy auditors, water heater manufacturers and installers, HVAC manufacturers and installers, window manufacturers and installers, door installers, insulation installers, appliance stores and installers – all these trades and more will have a bunch of new paying work because of this program.

3.  The fringe benefit of this program is education.  Homeowners who’ve never given a second thought to energy efficiency in the past will have an incentive to learn why their home consumes so much energy and what they can do to make it more efficient and therefore earn an instant rebate.  This fringe benefit is why I think this program will have a long-lasting impact on the American mentality towards the benefits of energy-efficiency.

Help this bill pass the Senate

Although this bill is expected to have support in the Senate, there is some opposition to it in regards to its cost and how it will be paid for.  These are the usual derailing questions asked by the usual suspects.  But as you can see, this bill will have a far-reaching and long-lasting impact on energy-efficiency in American homes and more immediately, it’ll create much-needed paying jobs for so many in the industry who’ve been struggling.  The benefits of this program will more than pay for its initial cost.

Please contact Senator McCain and Senator Kyl and express your support for Cash for Caulkers.

What are your thoughts, please leave me a comment!

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