Yesterday President Obama announced details of his proposed $6 billion energy efficiency rebate program called the HOME STAR program at Savannah Technical College in Georgia. Tina Ramos, a Special Assistant for Energy Policy at CAP, has the details.
Informally known as “Cash for Caulkers,” the HOME STAR program would provide immediate rebates of up to $3000 to homeowners who invest in making their homes more energy efficient:
“Now, we know this will save families as much as several hundred dollars on their utilities. We know it will make our economy less dependent on fossil fuels, helping to protect the planet for future generations. But I want to emphasize that HOME STAR will also create business and spur hiring up and down the economy,” said President Obama.
With unemployment in the construction industry at almost 25 percent, it is imperative that the Obama Administration implement innovative, effective programs to spur job creation in what has been termed the “tool belt recession.” Manufacturing employment has dropped 16 percent since the recession began, and the numbers are far worse in construction-related manufacturing. In addition, many building materials manufacturers are operating at 50 percent capacity, meaning that they are producing only half of the materials that they have the potential to. In Georgia, where construction job loss reached 28.2 percent in December since peak construction employment, Obama addressed how HOME STAR would jump start assembly lines in the building materials manufacturing sector:
And here’s one of the best things about energy efficiency — it turns out that energy-efficient windows or insulation, those things are products that are almost exclusively manufactured right here in the United States of America. It’s very hard to ship windows from China. So a lot of these materials are made right here in America.
The HOME STAR program is a cost effective way to create good, high-paying jobs for idled construction workers, boost sales of American-made building materials, and reduce household energy costs for American homeowners. HOME STAR is a consumer based program that builds off and supplements existing markets, making it inherently efficient to implement. “Retrofitting America’s 128 million homes will be the work of private companies, but market forces alone will not move fast enough to avert the crisis at hand,” wrote Matt Golden, founder of a San Francisco home energy retrofitting company, in a recent commentary in Forbes. “The legions of unemployed contractors and factory workers desperately need jobs now to pay their mortgages and feed their families. While the private sector is ready to step up and invest in long-term growth, near-term incentives will generate immediate demand and allow private businesses to start hiring again, right away.”
“This is not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea,” President Obama said of HOME STAR yesterday. “This is a common-sense approach that will help jumpstart job creation while making our economy stronger.”