I was reading Matt Grocoff’s excellent and thought provoking article on OldHouseWeb.com about energy efficiency in the home and got to wondering about the status of the Home Star Energy Bill. I’ve mentioned the bill, also known as the Cash for Caulkers Bill, a few times previously and it’s in the same place it was the last time I looked–still stuck in the Senate.
If you’re not familiar with the Cash for Caulkers legislation, it’s a series of tax credits intended as incentives to motivate homeowners into making their homes more energy efficient. It’s somewhat similar to the Energy Tax Credits set to expire December 31 of this year, but a little more broad in its coverage. The existing credits are based on specific items for the most part, and the new bill is more about the cumulative factors that can help make your home more energy efficient. The Cash for Caulkers Bill is also much more motivational as you can max out with an $8,000 credit, and I believe the most you can earn with the existing credits is $1,500.
Home Energy Score Program
While nothing has moved with the Home Star Energy Bill, I did discover that a new pilot program was just put into place on November 9th. The program is called Home Energy Score, and it’s only available in certain areas of the country for the time being, but if all goes well it could get rolled out as a national program in late 2011. The Home Energy Score program sounds very promising and could be a great preliminary program to lead into earning the Cash for Caulkers credits when they’re approved and rolled out.
If you’re close to an area with a Home Energy Score office, they will come out and do an energy efficiency inspection of your home that takes about an hour. It might be similar to an inspection that a reporter from National Public Radio recently went along on and wrote about. Those inspectors were trained by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and it sounds like the Home Energy Score inspectors can also receive certification through them.
When the inspection is complete, your home receives a score from 1 to 10, and you also receive suggestions on how you can improve your score. An added bonus is that they provide you with estimated annual energy savings if you implement the recommendations. I have to say it sounds like a very worthwhile program. Based on my personal experience in working with homeowners over the last several years, it seems like they are becoming much more knowledgeable about the importance of energy efficiency in their homes; but, in general, most have a lot more they can learn, and this program may help.