Vice President Biden recently announced a three-pronged federal initiative designed to create green jobs in the home improvement sector while helping U.S. homeowners save money through energy efficiency.
The two-year pilot program is designed to overcome several barriers that have hindered the development of a strong home energy retrofit market:
- lack of information about a home's energy use and the benefits of energy efficiency upgrades;
- uncertainty about the qualifications of workers in the home energy field;
- lack of financing for sometimes costly energy efficiency measures.
These new programs can complement efficiency incentive programs that utilities already have in place. The USDA Rural Development is partnering with the Department of Energy and rural electric cooperatives in pilot programs to increase participation and improve home energy efficiency in rural America.
MPG for Your Home?
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has introduced a Home Energy Score, which it likens to a miles per gallon (mpg) rating for homes.
Trained and certified contractors will use a standardized assessment tool developed by DOE and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to score a home's energy use on a scale of 1-10, estimate how much money could be saved by making energy retrofits and generate a customized list of recommended improvements with the annual savings and estimated payback time for each one.
DOE said the Home Energy Score initially will be tested with local government, utility and nonprofit partners in 10 pilot communities across the country, located in both urban and rural areas and with a wide range of climates.
A New Financing Option for Home Improvement
Homeowners will have access to affordable federally insured loans of up to $25,000 from private lenders with the new Power Saver Loan program. Homeowners will be able to use the loans to finance the home improvements of their choice including insulation, duct sealing and efficient doors, windows, HVAC systems and water heaters - based on a list of proven, cost-effective measures developed by FHA and DOE. For more information, click here.
Training Workers for Green Jobs
The third component of the three-part initiative is development of a uniform set of national guidelines for training residential retrofit workers. DOE said the guidelines are intended to give consumers confidence that work is being completed correctly and generating the expected savings.
This program provides training for entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the home energy retrofit market, including free business counseling and assistance for those seeing to enter the energy efficiency market. More information can be found here.
CEEP wants to know how these new federal programs will affect you. Please leave a comment and let us know.