Posts Tagged ‘Home Star’
» posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 at 4:37 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 223 times
by Houston Neal
To date, the greatest barrier to widespread adoption of “green” retrofits has been the cost. Homeowners, landlords and building owners all want proof that their investment will return a high yield in the future. “Cash for caulkers” will hopefully be the impetus for change.
The cash for caulkers bill, formally known as bill H.R. 5019 or the “Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010,” was recently passed in the House of Representatives. The bill still needs to get passed in the Senate, but supporters predict it will make it through before the end of the summer.
This is great news for homeowners and contractors alike. The bill provisions $6 billion for energy-efficient or “green” retrofits. It is expected to fund renovations for 3 million families, create 168,000 new jobs and save consumers $9.2 billion on energy bills over the next 10 years.
But in order to cash in on upcoming rebates, homeowners and contractors will need to do their homework. There are 13 types of retrofits eligible for funding. Each retrofit has unique eligibility requirements and set rebate amounts. Software Advice, a website that presents reviews of HVAC estimating software, made it very easy to wade through the legislation. To view a list of the eligible retrofits, along with their requirements and rebate amounts, visit:
» posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 2:41 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 115 times
Now that it has passed the House of Representatives with flying colors (246 to 161), we are thisclose to making Home Star a reality. This is the plan, supported on both sides of the aisle, that would give U.S. homeowners rebates for energy efficiency improvements and cut energy consumption. Most importantly, Home Star will put many of the country’s construction folks and blue collar wage earners back to work, so let’s get it passed in the Senate and on President Obama’s desk already!
The bill has unique bi-partisan support and is backed by one of the largest coalitions to hit Washington in years. In just a few months, the Home Star Coalition has signed more than 1,300 members. Supporters come from labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, contractors, retailers, utilities and regulators, to name a few groups. We’re gaining more ground every day and the time is right for Congress to make it into law. But first a little history:
Home Star was introduced to The White House in Nov. 2009. The concept was so well-received, the proposal was unanimously voted for by the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board the following month. Since then, this plan to weatherize America’s homes has undergone much review and analysis by a coalition of more than 1,000 stakeholders, the Senate, the House and the Administration. Its pros and cons have been analyzed, dissected and debated on blogs, TV and in mainstream newspapers for months now. It is time to move past the talk and get to the action.
Home Star will put hundreds of thousands of people back to work and provide economic recovery to a large number of blue collar workers hit hardest by this recession.
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The disparity between blue- and white collar workers who have been affected by the economy is striking – one in five workers in blue collar industries across America is jobless. On the other hand, those making $150,000 a year or more, are barely impacted. (Three percent are unemployed as of this writing.) These are the findings of a study* authored by Professor Andrew Sum, Northeastern University’s director of the Center for Labor Market Studies. In a radio interview earlier this year, he said, “It’s The Great Depression for blue collar workers – with dire implications for society…this rate of joblessness is greater than any post war time period in history.”
Home Star will benefit unemployed blue collar laborers and experienced workers who have lost jobs in construction and manufacturing because their skills can be easily adapted. Beyond retrofitting, Home Star will have a ripple effect creating jobs in other areas such as retailing, trucking and manufacturing. In fact, US factories will crank out 92 percent of the products needed to support the program, from insulation to replacement windows.
Home Star will also help cash strapped homeowners defray the costs of investments that will lower their energy bills. It would provide rebates of $1,000 to $1,500 for insulation, duct and air sealing, installation of more energy efficient equipment and other items at a “Silver Star” level. For more comprehensive home energy improvements (“Gold Star level”), consumers would receive a federal rebate of up to $3,000 for retrofits that result in savings of 20 percent. And the higher the energy savings achieved, the higher the rebate, of up to $8,000.
Homeowners who use less energy can create an economic environment that can help ease problems in the housing market. Not coincidentally, the mortgage default crisis occurred at exactly the same time that energy prices spiked in 2007 and 2008. High energy bills may only be one factor in pushing a homeowner over the edge. But the correlation between high energy bills and a family’s ability to afford a mortgage payment is a direct one.
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The icing on the cake is that Home Star will help preserve the environment. Residential buildings generate more than 20 percent of our nation’s carbon dioxide emissions — twice what automobiles emit. Existing techniques and technologies in energy efficiency retrofitting can reduce home energy use by 30 percent per home and lower associated greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Total associated savings in home energy bills is estimated to be as much as $9.4 billion over 10 years. Not a bad return on a $6 billion investment in Home Star!
If Home Star passes, programs will be set up here in America, right now. Its unemployed citizens can finally get back to work. Retrofit workers will earn decent wages, spurring new opportunities for themselves and their families. The societal benefits of Home Star are infinite.
By enacting Home Star, we can help end The Great Blue Collar Depression and keep our economy on the road to recovery.
*”Unemployment, Inequality and tackling America’s Job Crisis, published by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, Feb. 2010. http://www.clms.neu.edu/publication/documents/Labor_Underutilization_Problems_of_U.pdf
Stephen L. Cowell is chairman and chief executive officer of Conservation Services Group, based in Westborough, Mass. Mr. Cowell also co-founded Efficiency First, the Home Star Coalition and serves as president of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Council.
» posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at 11:47 am by Woody Wilson viewed 107 times
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First proposed by the Obama Administration and already introduced in the Senate, the measure gives $6 billion in rebates for energy retrofits.
Several House members planned today to introduce legislation creating Home Star, a measure designed to spur employment by giving tax credits for energy retrofits of homes
The bill was to be unveiled at a 1 p.m. news conference featuring Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.); Peter Welch (D-Vt.); Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.); and Denis Cardoza (D-Calif.)
Home Star enjoys considerable support. The Obama Administration first proposed it, Senate. Finance Committee chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), is lead sponsor for the Senate version of the bill, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, has signed on as a lead sponsor of the House version. In addition, Markey is chairman of the Energy & Commerce subcommittee on energy and the environment, so the measure is likely to be acted on quickly if it’s assigned to that committee.
Home Star authorizes up to $6 billion worth of tax rebates for the installation of energy-efficient products. According to text of the Senate version of the bill, Home Star authorizes two retrofit programs: Silver Star, which focuses on the installation of particular products; and Gold Star, in which rebates go to retrofits that achieve energy savings for the whole home.
Silver Star’s rebates go to measures such as sealing off air leakage between the attic and the conditioned space; adding at least R-19 insulation to existing insulation; achieving insulation levels of at least R-38 in warmer areas and at least R-49 in colder parts of the United States; replacing or sealing ducts; replacing doors and windows with certified energy-saving products; and installing storm windows on windows that don’t currently have them. Rebates generally top out at $1,500 per measure and $3,000 for all projects.
Gold Star focuses on whole-home energy savings. It will give a $3,000 rebate for a 20% reduction in the whole home’s energy consumption, and an additional $1,000 (up to $8,000) for each extra 5% reduction.
Craig L. Webb is Editor of ProSales.