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Groundbreaking Energy Efficiency Bill Introduced With Bi-Partisan Support, Ignored by Mainstream Media

By Stephen Lacey  

"Groundbreaking Energy Efficiency Bill Introduced With Bi-Partisan Support, Ignored by Mainstream Media"

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When mortgage lenders consider whether or not to give a homeowner a loan, they look at a variety of factors like income, value of personal assets, taxes and property value. (At least, they do now after poor lending standards helped create the financial crisis.)

But underwriters are still completely ignoring another very important factor in valuing a mortgage: energy costs.

With the average homeowner spending around $2,000 on energy costs — more than on real estate taxes or home insurance, according to the Institute for Market Transformation — properly accounting for energy use can give American consumers a better picture of how much they’re using. That, in turn, can help homeowners make better choices about what kind of home to buy, and help them determine if they need an efficiency upgrade.

A new bill introduced in the Senate yesterday by a bi-partisan pair of Senators — Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson and Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet — will require mortgage providers to factor energy costs into mortgages. Called the SAVE Act (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy), the law would instruct the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop new guidelines for appraisal that include energy.

In addition to receiving accurate information that will help them with a purchasing decision, the SAVE Act would allow homeowners to finance energy efficiency retrofits through their mortgages.

The economic impact of the SAVE program could be huge. According to an analysis put together by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and the Institute for Market Transformation, these simple guideline changes could help create around 83,000 net jobs and over $1 billion in energy savings over the next decade. All with no cost to the taxpayer.

Along with support from a bi-partisan team of Senators, the program is backed by dozens of leading real estate companies, business representatives and energy organizations — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“This is a welcome opportunity for bi-partisanship. We see a very broad coalition of supporters because it simply makes sense and could open up a lot of economic activity,” said Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation in an interview with Climate Progress.

In a joint statement issued by Senators Isakson and Bennet, the two explained why they’re co-sponsoring the bill:

“It is rare to have such diverse interests come together, and that’s because this is a common-sense bill,” said Bennet. “The Save Act would help provide access to useful information about energy usage that home owners, buyers, appraisers and underwriters want and need. It would lead to more complete and accurate mortgage underwriting, would encourage investments in home energy improvements, create more than 80,000 jobs and lighten the load for Colorado families’ budgets.”

“As someone who has 30 years of experience in the resident real estate industry and who has lived through multiple recessions, I understand that recovery in the housing market and job creation in the construction sector is pivotal to getting our economy back on track,” said Isakson. “I place my support behind this bill because it has the potential to create jobs without any cost to taxpayers, and it will also improve mortgage underwriting in this country by including energy as a factor in the process.”

It’s nice to see such a broad coalition support a common-sense program like SAVE. But no mainstream publications have picked it up the news, or bothered to write on the program. Alas, this good piece of news seems to have slipped under the radar as media outlets continue to hammer away at Solyndra.

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5 Responses to Groundbreaking Energy Efficiency Bill Introduced With Bi-Partisan Support, Ignored by Mainstream Media

  1. I used an inexpensive Black and Decker leak finder, and foam sealant to seal any leaks I found. Some of the leaks had a temperature difference of 10 degrees. So you know I was losing money through them right up until they were sealed.

    I have a dehumidifier that takes water out of the air inside my house. With less humidity in the air your AC/heat will not have to work as hard to control your house’s temperature.

  2. Edith Wiethorn says:

    This good-practices coalition will be well-supported going forward by the coalition for energy awareness & saving put together by Opower. The Opower website is worth studying for the coalition of contemporary forces Opower has aligned:

    http://www.opower.com
    Our purpose is to engage the millions of people who are in the dark about their energy use. We partnered with our first utility client in 2007 from a rented desk in San Francisco. Since then, we’ve grown into a well-capitalized business with more than 200 employees serving nearly 60 utilities—-including 8 of the US’s 10 largest. Our product platform now reaches more than 10 million homes in North America. Together with our clients and their customers, we’re saving energy, saving money, and helping reduce global carbon emissions.

    http://www.nrdc.org/media/2011/111017.asp
    ARLINGTON, Va., PALO ALTO, Calif., and WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oct. 17, 2011 –Facebook, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Opower today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership to use the power of social networking to raise consumer awareness about energy consumption through a joint development of a new social energy application …

    …According to NRDC, improvements in energy efficiency have the potential to deliver more than $700 billion in cost savings in the U.S. alone. Motivating consumers to take action—something that has traditionally been a challenge—is the key to unlocking this potential. Studies have shown that the average U.S. consumer spends about six minutes per year thinking about their energy. The joint effort is designed to change that by harnessing the power of social networking to supercharge consumer engagement with energy efficiency.

    https://www.facebook.com/green?sk=app_222414011154950#!/green?sk=app_254827687872575
    Leveraging the Platform Opportunity
    With 750 million people around the world using Facebook, we believe we have a unique opportunity to empower and inspire people to use our platform to promote environmental education and stewardship. There are thousands of environmental organizations around the world using Facebook every day, and we work with some of them to create programs and initiatives that, by utilizing our platform tools, allow people to share their passion for the environment. We believe that sharing on Facebook is powerful and can lead to real world action and meaningful, positive change.

  3. I’ll just note on the side that the infrared image of a house, widely reprinted as an example of a heat loss image – thus illustrating energy efficiency issues – is not one. It crops up everywhere, though!

  4. MarkfromLexington says:

    This is an incredibly important initiative. Please write your Senators and encourage them to support this bill.