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Help for Homeowners - President Obama Announces New Legislative Initiative Called HOME STAR

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December 31st, 2009

March 2, 2010 - President Obama gave a speech in Savannah, Georgia on March 2nd and outlined a legislative initiative called HOME STAR that would create thousands of new jobs and reduce the utility bills of homeowners all across America. Homeowners would receive substantial financial incentives to have insulation and other energy saving products installed in their homes by qualified contractors.

There are two types of incentives for homeowners.
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, and water heaters 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.

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 savings of 20%, plus an additional $1,000 incentive for each additional 5% of energy savings, with incentives not to exceed 50% of project costs. Contractors implementing the GOLD STAR performance path must be BPI accredited.

The incentives to homeowners will be provided through several sources.
HOME STAR will provide a rebate to consumers, which can be assigned to another party including the manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or contractor who completes the work. This rebate can be credited to consumers at multiple points in the transaction process including at the point of sale or point of completion of the job. Rebate checks can be issued either by the federal government, through existing state energy programs, or some combination of these entities based on infrastructure capability. In any case, administrative procedures must be designed for speed and efficiency, to roll out the program rapidly and effectively and to provide timely payments.

We continue to work for passage of this important bill, but we need your help in ushering support for the HOME STAR legislation. The sooner we show leaders in Washington, D.C. the critical need for this program, the sooner the monies will be made available to consumers; and the sooner we can get our industry back on the road to recovery. It's important, and the time to act is now. It's time to save energy and it's time to put Americans back to work.