Cash for Caulkers Bill: Savings for Energy Efficient Restorations

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old Houses, Old House Musings, Green Renovations, In The News
Reduce Energy Usage by 20 Percent and Receive Up to $8,000 Back?

Reduce Energy Usage by 20 Percent and Receive Up to $8,000 Back?

Just in time for Preservation Month we have news that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Home Star Bill, or as it is also being called the “cash for caulkers” bill. The bill still needs to be passed by the Senate–and there are some stipulations that have been added in the House–but it sounds like this bill can provide some much-needed financial assistance to old house enthusiasts who are either planning or in the process of restoring an old house.

A Reward for Going Green

A green home restoration can be costly. I have written about my own dilemma in trying to do a green restoration while remaining on a budget, which seems equally important during these tough times. I know in the long run I will be saving money by using less energy and will be helping the environment at the same time, but it can still be a lot of up front money. The Home Star Bill may be the answer. I read about the bill in two different articles–one in USA Today and one in the Seattle Times–and it was described a little differently in each, but I’m sure it will change even more by the time it gets through the Senate.

There are two parts of the bill: you can qualify for the Silver Star Program or go a few steps further and qualify for the Gold Star Program. You may receive up to $3,000 back with the Silver Star Program by upgrading your windows, exterior doors, or insulation to make your home more energy efficient. This is in addition to the $1,500 Energy Tax Credit that expires this December. You might be able to get big money back with the Gold Star Program, up to $8,000 back in your pocket. The Gold Star Program requires that you have an official energy audit of your home and take steps to reduce your energy consumption by 20 percent.

As the House version of the bill stands, the program should be funded for two years. One of the stipulations added before the House voted is that funding must be found for the bill rather than having the amount added to the deficit, which is probably a good thing. The purpose of the Home Star Bill is to provide energy savings to homeowners, contribute to a cleaner environment, and to provide jobs for the hard hit construction industry.

The Time is Right for an Energy Efficient Restoration

The Home Star Bill, if passed by the Senate, comes at the perfect time for those of us in the middle of an old house restoration. If you aren’t sure what your old house needs to become more energy efficient, Matt Grocoff provides ten steps to making your house more energy efficient in his recent blog post, or you can follow the restoration of his family’s 110 year-old Victorian on Greenovation.TV.