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Obama's Homestar Plan Would Pay for Home Energy Efficiency Retrofits
SAVANNAH, Georgia, March 2, 2010 (ENS) - President Barack Obama today outlined the details of a new "Homestar" program that would help create jobs by encouraging American families to invest in energy saving home improvements. The President spoke of the new program while touring a training facility at Savannah Technical College.

The Obama administration expects the Homestar program to create tens of thousands of jobs while saving the equivalent of the entire output of three coal-fired power plants each year.

Consumers in the program are estimated to save between $200 - $500 per year in energy costs, while improving the comfort and value of their homes.

The program is an initiative the President mentioned in his State of the Union address when he called on Congress to pass a program of incentives for homeowners who make energy efficiency investments in their homes. Again today called on Congress to pass legislation enabling the program.

The Senate Democratic leadership included a similar proposal as part of their Jobs Agenda released on February 4, 2010.

Key elements of the program include:

    Home in Boulder, Colorado retrofitted with solar panels (Photo by EcoFutures Building)
  • Rebates delivered directly to consumers: Like 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. Vendors including small independent building material dealers, large national home improvement chains, energy efficiency installation professionals and utility energy efficiency programs would market the rebates, provide them directly to consumers and then be reimbursed by the federal government.

  • $1,000 - $1,500 Silver Star Rebates: Consumers looking to have simple upgrades performed in their homes would be eligible for 50 percent rebates up to $1,000 - $1,500 for doing any of a straightforward set of upgrades, including: insulation, duct sealing, water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing and doors. Under Silver Star, consumers can chose a combination of upgrades for rebates up to a maximum of $3,000 per home. Rebates would be limited to the most energy efficient categories of upgrades, focusing on products made primarily in the United States and installed by certified contractors.

  • $3000 Gold Star Rebates: Consumers interested in more comprehensive energy retrofits would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate for a whole home energy audit and subsequent retrofit tailored to achieve a 20 percent energy savings. Consumers could receive additional rebate amounts for energy savings in excess of 20 percent. Gold Star would build on existing whole home retrofit programs, such as EPA's Home Performance with Energy Star program.

  • Oversight to Ensure Quality Installations: 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.

  • Support for financing: The program would include support to state and local governments to provide financing options for consumers, helping to ensure that consumers can afford to make these investments.
The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute today supported President Obama's call for Congress to enact legislation to encourage consumers to purchase and install highly energy efficient HVAC and water heating equipment.

With unemployment in the construction sector near 25 percent and with underutilized capacity in our manufacturing sector, the Homestar program has the potential to boost demand for energy efficiency products and installation services.

The program is intended to help reduce America's dependence on oil and support the development of an energy efficiency services sector in the economy.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, supports the initiative. "I am excited about the HOMESTAR program that the President detailed today," he said. "Offering incentives to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient will help create jobs and save homeowners money while also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is a promising idea, and Democrats and Republicans should work together to enact it into law."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.



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