House Passes Bill to Reward Energy Savers

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $6 billion economic stimulus plan known as “Cash for Caulkers,” which will award rebates to homeowners who make their homes more energy efficient.

     The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, passed 246-161, is expected to create 168,000 jobs. Jobs will be added in home installations and renovations, and in factories that produce green building supplies. Homeowners will receive rebates for installing domestically produced energy efficient windows, water heaters and air conditioners.
     President Obama has been promoting the legislation as part of his job creation agenda since December.
     “I’m convinced that the country that leads in clean energy is also going to be the country that leads in the global economy and I want America to be that nation,” Obama said in a statement after the bill was passed.
     “This rebate program will not only put people back to work, it will lower costs for homeowners,” he said, promising that it would “save consumers money on energy bills down the road.”
     The bill’s author, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., called the legislation a “practical, common sense investment” in jobs and the environment.
     Homeowners can qualify for the bill’s incentives in two ways: Under the Silver Star plan, consumers who install energy efficient insulation, duct sealing, windows and doors and water heaters can receive up to $1,500 back per project, with a $3,000 cap, or half of the project cost. Under the Gold Star plan, homeowners who conduct an entire-home energy audit and make a 20 percent reduction in energy use can receive $3,000, plus $1,000 for each additional 5 percent energy savings. The cap for the Gold Star program is $8,000 or half of project costs.
     The two-year program is expected to help 3 million families shave off $200 to $500 a year on utility bills.

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