Posts Tagged home star

Home Star Benefits

Posted by on Friday, 9 April, 2010

The Home Star Energy Retrofits conservation bill includes specific benefits. Home Star provides federal backing to installation of equipment that reduces energy costs. The proposed program subsidizes householders, construction contractors, and construction retailers, at a cost to the federal government. Stores and installers submit rebate requests to the federal government, which pays the qualifying rebates.

Home Star includes $6 billion in total subsidies in 2010, according to Senator Mark Warner. The Virginia senator gives a speech introducing Home Star at the link. The Home Star plan provides jobs to workers in the United States, according to Representative Lois Capps. Construction contractors buy insulation and HVAC systems from stores such as Home Depot in Santa Barbara, and installers work in other cities in Capps’ district including subdivisions in Ventura. Representative Lois Capps’ coastal district was hit hard by the collapse of the housing market. The headquarters of Countrywide Bank were in a neighboring district, the bank is now part of Bank of America.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources provides a summary of the benefits in the Home Star proposal. The target for this plan is to retrofit three million homes, spending around $2000 a house. The subsidy level varies depending on which improvements the homeowner purchases. The grant is meant to save the homeowner much more in energy costs. According to Pew via Senator Mark Warner, the retrofits may reduce energy usage by as much as forty percent. The Home Star Retrofits may provide even greater savings, since many power companies charge higher rates as homeowners use increasing amounts of energy during the month. For example, Southern California Edison bills homeowners at tiered rates. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources estimates that participating households will save around $200-$500 a year in energy costs.

The Home Star program provides two options to home owners to receive the rebates. Silver Star provides funding for individual efficiency improvements and matches up to half of the cost, with a maximum value of rebates per household of $3000. Individual Silver Star Rebates vary between $1000-$1500, according to the Senate proposal. Gold Star is performance based, and the rebate is based on the percentage reduction in energy usage. Gold Star provides $3000 for the initial twenty percent reduction, and $1000 for additional five percent reductions, according to Senator Mark Warner. Since Gold Star requires performance measurement it also requires an energy audit for homeowners to qualify for a rebate, so the energy use before and after the construction can be compared.

Home Star Retrofit Rebate

Posted by on Tuesday, 6 April, 2010

The Home Star Retrofit Rebate Program is a new program that will provide homeowners with federal rebates if it passes. The act is currently under discussion by House Members including Representative Waxman, and is supported by President Obama. This program would provide federal funding to fix up houses so heating and cooling use less energy.

This program will provide rebates directly to customers when they install the retrofit equipment, according to the White House. The retailer, energy company, or energy contractor offers the rebate and then receives payment from the government. It’s an efficiency retrofit program, so this doesn’t involve adding new solar panels or wind plants to houses. The rebates are offered to people who install new attic and wall insulation, heating and air conditioning, as well as other items.

Significantly, the federal government also mentions that it will help the homeowners borrow money to install the retrofits. It’s unclear how much liability the federal government is assuming if the bill passes, considering the debacle of home improvements during the bubble such as granite counter tops. At least these types of loans reduce energy usage, which does add value to a home even in a down market as these are not cosmetic improvements. It appears these loans will be provided by state and county governments, with additional backing provided by the Treasury. That potentially makes the loans up to regional governments, which may or may not be enthusiastic about lending money for the retrofits. States such as California that are hit hard by the loss of construction jobs and have many citizens concerned about energy cost reduction are more likely to go along with this policy.

The government has set targets in previous legislation, such as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. Meeting these targets requires additional federal backing. Researchers at Duke University explain some additional ways the federal government can support energy conservation. The support for home energy audits mentioned in this article are included in the 2010 bill, as well as conducting an information campaign as this program is posted on the President’s blog. Other options mentioned by Duke staff include allowing the states and county governments funding the retrofit program to offer tax free bonds, as well as adding the retrofits to low income housing. The government also owns a lot of other housing, such as housing for soldiers on military bases, and adding new insulation, doors, and windows at the barracks would help morale as well as conserving fuel for military equipment and providing jobs to military contractors.