House passes Home Star

One step closer to a clean energy future

Yesterday’s bi-partisan passage of the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 in the House is a critical milestone on the road to economic recovery, alleviating America’s jobs crisis, and lessening our energy use.  The alliance behind this $6 billion rebate program to encourage Americans to invest in more energy-efficient homes is nothing short of historic.  CAP’s Tina M. Ramos and Bracken Hendricks have the story.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Home Builders, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that votes related to HOME STAR would be considered in their annual legislative scorecards, joining unlikely allies like the Laborer’s International Union of North America and the League of Conservation Voters in supporting HOME STAR.  These are groups have had widely different positions on climate policy, yet they agree on the effectiveness of HOME STAR and on the need to build a movement around clean energy solutions.  At a time of deep national division on so many critical policy issues, the ability of these groups – along with the support of nearly 500,000 businesses and organizations – to find common cause in restoring our economy offers a better way forward.

With the construction sector experiencing a one industry depression and sustained unemployment of almost 25 percent, HOME STAR will jump start demand for construction jobs and advanced manufactured products.  This program of incentives for homeowners to spur energy efficiency retrofits on a wide scale is the right medicine for the hard hit construction industry’s 3.3 million small businesses and solo contractors.  HOME STAR will provide urgently needed opportunity to put many of the 2.1 million construction workers who lost their jobs since the peak of the housing bubble, while also building and strengthening the energy efficiency industry in the United States.

Because buildings account for roughly 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, advancing home retrofits through the HOME STAR program can significantly cut global warming pollution, reduce demand for energy and home heating oil, and protect consumers all at the same time, saving Americans $9.4 billion on their energy bills over the next decade.  In a statement yesterday, President Obama said:

“The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act is a common sense bill that will create jobs, save consumers money, and strengthen our economy.  I commend the House on passing this bill, and I particularly want to thank Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont for all of his hard work on this issue.   At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work and companies are ready to take on new customers, this legislation will help jumpstart job growth and demand for new products created right here in America.   This rebate program will not only put people back to work, it will lower costs for homeowners who choose to improve their home with products like energy efficient windows, water heaters and air conditioners.  And it will also save consumers money on energy bills down the road.”

The bi-partisan passage of HOME STAR is a step in the right direction toward a more efficient, more economically stable, and more productive America.  The motion to recommit in the final version of the passed bill will allow the differences between the House and Senate versions of HOME STAR to be worked out.  While key differences are resolved, focus must be kept on fast acting solutions that can be implemented easily within the market, while building a high standards industry.

“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,” said President Obama yesterday.  “I will not settle for anything less than first place when it comes to new energy technologies, and this bill will create the incentives to help us accomplish that goal.  We have workers eager to do new installations and renovations, and factories ready to produce new energy efficient building supplies.  Today’s House vote is an important step forward, and I look forward to working with the Senate to improve this legislation so we can help more middle-class homeowners make these investments without delay.”

HOME STAR is one critical step on the road to a clean energy future, but as we look ahead, truly comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation is needed to curb global warming pollution, reduce America’s dependence on pollution and Big Oil, create even more jobs and economic opportunities, drive investment in clean energy technologies, and drive investment in communities.  If done right, climate and clean energy legislation will help to revitalize the American economy both by putting a price on global warming pollution and by taking steps to quickly produce real and tangible benefits for real people.

Guest Blogger Tina M. Ramos is a Special Assistant, and Bracken Hendricks is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

9 Responses to House passes Home Star

  1. Kris says:

    Awesome! I didn’t hear that they had passed it. It’s about time.

  2. Carter says:

    This is good news, and surely homeowners can use the help. But it leaves renters who have to pay for their own electricity and heat out in the cold. They don’t have the option of weatherizing their homes, and no one is forcing landlords to do it.

  3. paulm says:

    Time to replace your roof

    Solé Power Tile to be CEC-Approved For California Roofs

    Abby Feinstein from SRS Energy tells me that while roofing giant Petersen-Dean is looking at working with home builders to use the solar tile in housing developments, smaller roofing companies are also being trained to install and retrofit existing homes.

  4. PurpleOzone says:

    Does this apply if you get work done this year?

  5. PurpleOzone says:


    Renters can try negotiating with the landlord to make the improvement and receive some credit. Lower energy bills can be a positive in renting. It depends on the personality of the landlord/landlady.

    Nobody is forcing homeowners either.

  6. bill says:

    A warning from Australia – PLEASE monitor this program carefully!

    The Australian Government did something similar with housing insulation retrofits, and the result may well contribute to the current Labor government being ousted after only one term in office, and put the AGW-denying Liberal Party back in power.

    You see, as it was part of the economic stimulus package they pretty-well left the market to take care of the installations. Bad idea; this attracted a fleet of fly-by-night shonks who botched the jobs.

    The relevant minister’s office then apparently ignored warnings that non-qualified personnel were doing dodgy work in people’s ceilings. Results – 4 deaths, several house-fires, and a very, very expensive check and re-fit program for tens of thousands of properties. Oh, and $millions in phony claims for work that was signed-off on by property-owners – wittingly or otherwise – but not actually done!

    (HINT: ensure proper regulation. It’s grimly ironic when social-democrats faith in the markets is what undoes them!)

    Subsidised PV installations have proved more successful. And we’ve been happily subsidising solar hot-water installations for years.

  7. Peter Bellin says:

    As a landlord of one house, I would need the credit to make the upgrades. I get no benefit, as the tenant pays the utilities, but I would like to improve the windows, for example.

    It would be nice if the policy offered a way for landlords to upgrade properties and get a income rebate.

    Has the Senate already acted? I wonder what the differences between House and Senate that need to be worked out.

  8. Susan says:


  9. Great news! Does anybody have any insights into the politics surrounding the legislation? How difficult was it to develop bipartisan support for this bill?