“Earl Haynes, of CGE Solutions, installed a blower door, left, in the front door of the columnist David Leonhardt’s home while conducting an energy audit. A blower door depressurizes a home, allowing a rater to measure air flow through a pressure ring in the fan and determine the amount of air leak.”
Promise in a “Cash for Caulkers” home weatherization program
The one highly visible success of the stimulus program has been the cash-for-clunkers program. It induced a boom in vehicle sales this summer that clearly would not have happened otherwise.
The rest of the stimulus has created a lot of jobs “” 700,000 to 1.5 million, according to economists’ estimates. But it has done so in thousands of little ways: scattered construction projects, plugged-up school budgets and the like. Politically, these measures are not popular enough to create a groundswell for more of them.
And the economy still needs help. So White House officials are looking at creating a new version of cash for clunkers “” this time for home weatherization.
John Doerr, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and former President Bill Clinton have separately suggested versions of the idea to the White House. Mr. Doerr calls his proposal, which would give households money to pay for weatherization projects, “cash for caulkers.” Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, told me, “It’s one of the top things he’s looking at.”
The idea has a lot to recommend it. The housing bust has idled contractors and construction workers, who could be put to work insulating homes and caulking air leaks. Many households, meanwhile, would save substantial money “” not to mention help the climate “” by weatherizing their homes, research by McKinsey & Company has shown. All in all, a cash-for-caulkers program seems like a promising part of the jobs program for 2010 that Mr. Obama has suggested he is planning.
But I would also mention one point of caution: the details of any caulkers plan will matter enormously. Weatherizing a home, as I recently discovered, turns out to be a lot more complicated than buying a car.
For background, see “Energy Secretary Steven Chu on home weatherization: Saving money by saving energy.” The story continues: