President Obama announced March 2 the details of “Homestar,” a Cash for Clunkers–like rebate program designed to entice Americans to make their houses more energy efficient. Under the proposal, homeowners could be eligible for up to $3,000 in rebates for purchases of efficient product upgrades or whole-house audits/retrofits. The bill moved one step closer to approval March 24 when it was approved by the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee.
Under the plan, consumers would collect point-of-sale rebates for energy-efficient purchases. Vendors, from small independent dealers to large national home improvement chains, would market the rebates, provide them directly to consumers, and then be reimbursed.
Under the first level of rebates, Silver Star, consumers would be eligible for up to $1,500 for a variety of upgrades, including adding insulation, sealing leaky ducts, and replacing inefficient water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing, and doors. There would be a maximum rebate of $3,000 per home.
The more comprehensive Gold Star level would provide a $3,000 rebate to consumers for a whole-house energy audit and subsequent retrofit tailored to achieve a 20% energy savings. Additional rebates would be available for savings above 20%.
Masco Home Services president Larry Laseter, one of three manufacturers present for Obama’s announcement, urged Congress to approve the program. “The Homestar program will put our nation’s skilled construction force back to work, benefit homeowners through comfort and energy-efficient improvements to their existing homes, and result in long-term energy-efficiency gains.”
In a statement, the NAHB also acknowledged the economic possibilities, though it expressed that equal access for everyone will be essential to the program’s success. “This has the potential to be a real shot in the arm for the home building industry,” said association chairman Bob Jones. “It will help put America back to work, and it will help families save on monthly energy bills.”