President Issues Statement in Press Release on Home Star Program

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President Issues Statement on HOME STAR Program

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

April 15, 2010
STATEMENT FROM THE PRESIDENT ON HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE PASSAGE OF “HOMESTAR” LEGISLATION

“Today’s bipartisan Committee vote is an important step forward in our effort to create jobs, save consumers money, and increase energy efficiency. In my State of the Union Address and in the months since, I have called on Congress to pass a program of incentives to homeowners who make their homes more energy efficient. The Home Star legislation approved today would do just that – providing consumers with up-front rebates on investments in things like insulation, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and windows that have been proven to save energy. This proposal is not a Democratic or Republican idea: it’s a common sense strategy to help put Americans back to work while giving American consumers a break. I want to thank the members of Congress from both parties that have worked to support this legislation, as well as their colleagues in the Senate who are working to promote Home Star legislation. I look forward to working with Congress to get this bill to my desk without delay.”

Go Green Now - Better Economy Later

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April 12, 2010

Energy-efficiency measures in the southern United States could save consumers $41 billion on their energy bills, open 380,000 new jobs, and save 8.6 billion gallons of water over the next 10 years, according to research conducted from Duke University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Each dollar invested in energy efficiency over the next 20 years will reap an average of $2.25 in benefits, the study concluded. These findings indicate the construction of dozens of new power plants could be avoided. Nearly 25 gigawatts of older power plants could be retired and the construction of new power plants (generating up to 50 gigawatts) of power could be avoided.

"We looked at how these policies might interact, not just single programs," says researcher Etan Gumerman at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. "The interplay between policies compounds the savings - and its all cost-effective."

Perks of energy investment include the average  residential electricity bill would decline by 26 dollars per month in 2020 and 50 dollars per month in 2030, the study projects. In total, the study concludes that investing 200 billion dollars in energy efficiency programs over the next 20 years could return 448 billion dollars in savings.

New appliance standards, incentives for retrofitting and weatherization, upgrades to utility plants and process improvements were among the policies researchers considered. To achieve their results, the researchers modeled how implementation of nine policies across the residential, commercial and industrial sectors might play out over 20 years in the District of Columbia and 16 southern states. Thirty-six percent of Americans live in the study region. With its low electricity rates, which encourage consumption, the South consumes a super-sized portion of American energy at 44 percent, and supplies 48 percent of the nation's power. Researchers generated a business as usual scenario, without any policies, and compared it with scenarios that included specific sets of energy-efficiency investments, to capture the cost savings. Yet, energy-efficient products have a lower market penetration in this region more than elsewhere in the country, and these states spend less per capita on efficiency programs than the national average.

"An aggressive commitment to energy efficiency could be an economic windfall for the South," said researcher Dr. Marilyn Brown of the Georgia Institute of Technology. "Such a shift would lower energy bills for cash-strapped consumers and businesses and create more new jobs for Southern workers."

The region's economy is anticipated to grow by 1.23 billion dollars in 2020 and increase to 2.12 billion dollars in 2030. Interestingly, the study found that the reduction in power plant capacity would save southern regions of the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation 8.6 billion gallons of fresh water in 2020 and 20.1 billion gallons in 2030.

Successful utility company Georgia Power says it is already promoting energy efficiency to help customers save money and to reduce the need for power plants. In total, the company plans to invest almost 500 million dollars over the next 10 years on  programs such as free in-home energy audits that show residential customers how energy efficient their home is and inform them of ways to save energy. The company is providing some funding to help low-income customers make home improvements for increased energy efficiency and has a recycling program for older refrigerators and freezers.

Funded with support from the Energy Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and Turner Foundation, the study, "Energy Efficiency in the South" is available on the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance website: www.seealliance.org/programs/research.php.

State profiles are also available through the Alliance, a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency in the Southeast.


Obama's Energy Plan - Earn an $8,000 Tax Credit for an Energy Efficient Home

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A major source of energy waste in homes is an incomplete or improperly sealed building envelope—essentially, the boundary between inside and outside. One third of all heating and cooling leaks are found between joints in the floors, ceilings, and walls; almost half of the remaining leaks are found between fireplaces, windows, doors, or heating and cooling ducts. Today a homeowner is faced with the burden

of perfecting weatherization of their house in an effort to fight rising energy costs. To assist homeowners in identifying and fixing these common problems, the Obama Administration has recently announced the HomeStar program.

HomeStar will provide tax rebates of up to $8,000 for a projected 3 million homeowners across the country. These credits will fund improvements to address the energy losses caused by leaks and air loss in unsealed houses. The HomeStar program will provide incentives for products and services affiliated with energy efficiency and, upon completion of weatherization improvements, rewards will be offered to homeowners for every nominal 5% saved in home energy consumption. Depending on the size and average energy consumption of the household, the improvements are expected to save between $200 and $500 annually. The program is expected to pass through Congress quickly due to strong bipartisan political support for energy efficiency.

The HomeStar program is divided into two tiers corresponding to the extent and expense of improvements. The Gold Star program will provide up to $8,000 for inspections including an energy audit and any efficiency measures that are projected to result in a 20% reduction in home energy costs from the previous year’s data. An additional credit of $1,000 is also available for each 5% increment of energy reduction costs. It is expected the GoldStar program will provide rebates to 500,000 homeowners in the United States.
The Silver Star component of the HomeStar program targets the Do-It-Yourself-ers who prefer to perform the work themselves. This program will provide rebates of up to 50% of the cost of weatherization materials. Products eligible for rebates must meet program efficiency standards, though they may include both synthetic and eco-friendly insulations, caulks, windows, doors, duct wrapping, fireplace seals (including flue repairs), as well as plumbing and electrical fixture seals. Homeowners will be eligible to claim credits of up to $3,000 from store rebates found on eligible products or through local energy providers; 2.9 million homes are projected to participate.
In the process of tightening the envelope, homeowners are advised to either have a professional home inspection or a do it yourself radon test in sub level basements upon completion of the weatherization process, as a perfectly sealed home can result in a rapid spread of formerly accumulated radon pollution, commonly found in sub-basements. Congress has projected a total home energy savings of $9.4 billion over the next decade with an improved health and comfort rating for up to 3.3 million homes. These energy savings are the equivalent to taking 615,000 cars off the road or four 30-megawatt power plants. Check back to our blog for more about program developments, participants’ success stories, or to learn more about how to bring green to your home - and profit!