A while back we talked about the energy efficiency tax credits for home improvements that are available through the end of 2010 for homeowners to upgrade their windows, heaters, insulation and other energy efficient products. Now it sounds like the government is considering passing another program, the Homestar Program, that would give rebates to homeowners for investing in energy saving home improvements.
In his State of the Union address, the President called on Congress to pass a program of incentives for homeowners who make energy efficiency investments in their homes. Today, while touring a training facility at Savannah Technical College, the President outlined more details of a new “HOMESTAR” program that would help create jobs by encouraging American families to invest in energy saving home improvements. Consistent with the President’s call for a HOMESTAR program, the Senate Democratic leadership included a proposal of this kind as part of their Jobs Agenda released on February 4, 2010. The President looks forward to continuing to work with Members of Congress, business, environmental and labor leaders to enact a HOMESTAR program into law.
So it looks like they would like to help get people in the construction trades back to work, and this initiative is supposed to help in doing that. So how does the Homestar Program work?
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Energy Saving Home Improvement Bill
The Homestar Program hasn't been passed yet, but with unemployment in the construction fields hovering near 25%, the administration would like to get the program passed in order to help jumpstart economic recovery by boosting demand for energy efficiency products and the install and construction services that go along with them. It also aims to help save families money by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes – leading to less energy usage.
Homestar Program Details
Components of the Homestar Program include (from the government site):
- Rebates delivered directly to consumers: Like the Cash for Clunkers program, consumers would be eligible for direct HOMESTAR rebates at the point of sale for a variety of energy-saving investments in their homes. A broad array of vendors, from small independent building material dealers, large national home improvement chains, energy efficiency installation professionals and utility energy efficiency programs (including rural utilities) would market the rebates, provide them directly to consumers and then be reimbursed by the federal government.
- $1,000 – $1,500 Silver Star Rebates: Consumers looking to have simple upgrades performed in their homes would be eligible for 50% rebates up to $1,000 – $1,500 for doing any of a straightforward set of upgrades, including: insulation, duct sealing, water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing and doors. Under Silver Star, consumers can chose a combination of upgrades for rebates up to a maximum of $3,000 per home. Rebates would be limited to the most energy efficient categories of upgrades—focusing on products made primarily in the United States and installed by certified contractors.
- $3000 Gold Star Rebates: Consumers interested in more comprehensive energy retrofits would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate for a whole home energy audit and subsequent retrofit tailored to achieve a 20% energy savings in their homes. Consumers could receive additional rebate amounts for energy savings in excess of 20%. Gold Star would build on existing whole home retrofit programs, like EPA’s successful Home Performance with Energy Star program.
- Oversight to Ensure Quality Installations: The program would require that contractors be certified to perform efficiency installations. Independent quality assurance providers would conduct field audits after work is completed to ensure proper installation so consumers receive energy savings from their upgrades. States would oversee the implementation of quality assurance to ensure that the program was moving the industry toward more robust standards and comprehensive energy retrofit practices.
- Support for financing: The program would include support to State and local governments to provide financing options for consumers seeking to make efficiency investments in their homes. This will help ensure that consumers can afford to make these investments.
According to the White House consumers in the program are expected to see savings of “between $200 – $500 per year in energy costs”, which for many would make the program worthwhile.
Where Is The Homestar Program Currently? Has It Passed?
As of right now the Homestar Program bill has not yet been made into law. On May 6th, 2010 it was passed by the House of Representatives in congress. Next up will be a vote in the Senate. If it passes there it stands to be signed into law by the President shortly after.
If you're looking into doing some energy saving home improvements to your home, you might want to wait a while as this program differs from the current home improvement tax credit – it is a 50% rebate, instead of a 30% tax credit. You could stand to make out better if the bill passes! Stay tuned!
Have you been thinking about doing a energy saving home improvement? If so, will news of this potential new law cause you to wait and see, or are you moving ahead and claiming the tax credits from the current program? Tell us your thoughts on the bill in the comments!