building a sustainable and resilient community

HOME STAR: This is kind of a big deal

Posted on | February 26, 2010 | 1 Comment

There are several energy and climate bills floating around in the Congress right now, including the Kerry/Boxer (or Kerry/Graham/Lieberman) Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (which has been in the works since – but not because – I thanked them here) ; the Bingaman/Murkowski American Clean Energy Leadership Act, or ACELA; the Cantwell/Collins CLEAR Act; and probably the most comprehensive energy and climate bill on the docket right now, the Waxman/Markey Bill in the House.  All of these, in so far as I can tell, are floating around in some legislative ether that I don’t understand but usually attribute to our Congress’ inability to do anything truly useful.

Well, that may soon change, at least a little bit.  Enter the HOME STAR Jobs Bill.   HOME STAR provides two paths for consumers to save energy in their homes (from their Web site):

  1. The Silver Star prescriptive path provides a near-term incentive for specific energy saving investments that is simple to administer and easily introduced into the existing marketplace. Homeowners receive between $1,000 and $1,500 for each measure installed in the home, or $250 per appliance, with a benefit not exceeding $3,000 or at least 50% of total project costs (whichever is less). Covered measures include air sealing; attic, wall, and crawl space insulation; duct sealing or replacement; and replacement of existing windows and doors, furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters and appliances with high-efficiency models. The legislation will utilize existing standards for qualifying products at a level sufficient to significantly increase consumer demand for highly energy efficient building materials and mechanical systems.  SILVER STAR improvements may be implemented by any appropriately licensed and insured contractor, but all participating contractors will receive information about opportunities for accreditation and training programs.
  2. The Gold Star performance path offers an incentive to households that choose to conduct a comprehensive energy audit and then implement a variety of measures that are designed together to provide greater total returns in energy savings. This performance path represents the future of home efficiency: state-of-the-art building science is used to identify problems, present solutions and deliver verifiable energy savings, generating confidence among homeowners and investors alike. This technology-neutral approach is based on performance, not specific products, so market forces will direct funds to solutions that achieve the best results. A certified professional with accreditation from the Building Performance Institute (BPI), the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) or an approved equivalent conducts an energy audit before work begins, and a test-out when the performance retrofit is complete. Consumers receive $3,000 for modeled savings of 20%, plus an additional $1,500 incentive for each additional 5% of modeled energy savings, with incentives not to exceed 50% of project costs. Contractors implementing the GOLD STAR performance path must be BPI accredited.

What this means is that, essentially, if this legislation passes, millions of people will very quickly have several options available to them by which they can implement energy-saving measures in their homes by actions as simple as upgrading appliances or by doing an all-out renovation.  The bill primarily hopes to quickly create as many jobs as possible, while providing energy efficiency on a massive scale, which not only will ease the burden on our aging energy infrastructure, it will ultimately reduce carbon emissions.  (Both of which, incidentally, were the goals when I started this Web site.)  Additionally, anyone wishing to implement these measures will have financing options available to them that are guaranteed through the provisions of the bill.

Pretty neat, eh? Now we just need to hope that the legislation gets passed! If you’d like to learn more about HOME STAR, visit their Web site here.  If you’d like to join the coalition supporting it, visit the Efficiency First Web site to sign up and find out how you can contact your legislators to voice your support.  Even if you don’t own your own home or aren’t in a position to change your living situation to make it more efficient, I think we can all agree that adding a couple hundred thousand jobs during a recession to a very depressed construction market is a good idea, and making several million homes more efficient is an even better idea.   So CHECK IT OUT!!!



One Response to “HOME STAR: This is kind of a big deal”

  1. mike
    February 26th, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

    bah, you beat me too it.

    i’ll just have to do a post on intensive energy reducing reno’s instead…

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