First there was "Cash for Clunkers". Â Then you could trade in your old appliances for a federal rebate. Â And now, we have "Cash for Caulkers", a new federal incentive program passed yesterday.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, more than 86 million single family homes in the United States were constructed before modern building codes. Many of them are not well insulated and have outdated heating and cooling systems.
As a response to these problems, and in an effort toÂ spur manufacturing in an industry that has declined rapidly during the recession, Congress yesterday passed theÂ Home Star Energy Retrofit Act.
The two-year program is designed to spur home energy retrofits by providing direct incentives to homeowners to install American-made energy-saving products. It is expected to create 170,000 new jobs and save families close to $10 billion in energy bills in the next decade.
Home Star includes two types of consumer incentives:
Silver Star â€“ This provides in-store rebates for specific energy-saving investments, including insulation, duct sealing, windows and doors, air sealing and water heaters. Rebates would not exceed $3,000 or 50 percent of the total project cost.
Gold Star â€“ This rewards homeowners who conduct a comprehensive energy audit and implement a variety of measures to reduce energy use. Consumers receive $3,000 for a demonstrated savings of 20 percent, plus an additional $1,000 for each additional 5 percent energy savings â€“ capped at 50 percent of the project cost.
The legislation, which has been endorsed by President Obama, is also supported by a broad range of groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Home Builders, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Alliance to Save Energy. Â It is seen as a green building victory.