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What’s up with Cash for Caulkers?

14 May 2010

I’m starting to get a lot of questions about the “Cash for Caulkers” program – known officially as the Home Star Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program.  Home Star is an act that has recently been passed by the House of Representatives in Congress that would open up to $6 billion in rebates to American homeowners over the next three years to help us make our homes more energy efficient.

Home Star is the umbrella for two different rebate programs, Gold Star and Silver Star.  Silver is much like the federal tax rebate that will run out in 2010 – certain levels of rebates for certain energy efficiency products for homes, like insulation, mechanicals, etc., up to $3,000.  Gold Star is a different program that offers up to $8k in rebates to homeowners who achieve a total 20% reduction in their whole home’s energy use.  It is a much more complicated process that would involve home energy modeling and close work with a qualified contractor.

Right now, the act is being reviewed by the Senate and has not been signed into law, which means that a lot is still up in the air.  It may pass, it may not, but if you’re looking for more information, here are a few resources:

“”Home Star is that solid investment that’s going to achieve that hat trick of energy savings for the homeowner, of moving toward a cleaner environment and of creating jobs here at home,” said bill sponsor Peter Welch, D-Vt.” – Star Tribune, “Cash for Caulkers: House passes $5.7B bill to help pay for energy-efficiency home improvements”, May 6th, 2010

“For middle-class families, this program will help them save hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs while improving the comfort and value of their most important investment – their homes.”  White, “Factsheet: Homestar Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program,” March 2, 1010

If you are considering making some smart energy investments in your home – like insulation, air sealing, a new furnace, etc – and you are wondering whether to wait or not, keep this in mind: Home Star is not necessarily guaranteed, and there is money out there for energy investments right now.  The 2010 federal tax credit, utility rebates (like CenterPoint’s insulation rebate) and more might be just as useful for you as Home Star. If you have questions about rebates or low-interest loan programs, visit the nonprofit Center for Energy and Environment website for home improvement financing info and lots of help.

We’re paying close attention to this, so as soon as we know more it will go up on the Minnesota Energy Challenge!

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