Homestar Program – A New Incentive to Invest in Energy Efficiency and Create Jobs

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Energy efficient appliances can save both money and energy!

Homestar program – A new incentive to invest in energy efficiency and create jobs. While in the face of an economic recession and an unemployment rate of 25 percent in the construction sector, President Obama proposed Homestar in his State of the Union address. This is an incentive program intended to encourage homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient and increase jobs. Homestar is not yet enacted, but the president has called on Congress to pass the program. Here are some of its key components.

Economic Boost

Homestar will offer homeowners rebates of up to 50 percent on energy-saving upgrades to their homes. Emphasis will be placed on U.S.-made products and installation by certified contractors. There are three different kinds of rebates available in the Homestar program: Direct to customer rebates, Silver Star and Gold Star.

* Direct to customer rebates mean that customers would be eligible for a rebate at the point of sale (not unlike the Cash for Clunkers program). Many vendors, from retail chains to independent businesses would market the rebates to customers. The federal government would then reimburse the vendors.

* Silver Star rebates range from $1,000 to $1,500 for home improvements such as more efficient water heaters, home insulation, doors, windows, and/or a combination of upgrades. The main stipulation is that rebates would be limited to the most energy-efficient upgrades.

* Gold Star rebates involve a whole-home energy retrofit, with eligibility for a $3,000 rebate. This rebate would apply for homeowners seeking energy savings of 20 percent or more in their homes. If the homeowner saves more than 20 percent, additional rebates could apply. Gold Star rebates work with existing incentives such as the Energy Star program.

According to whitehouse.gov, homeowners who participate in Homestar will save anywhere from $200-$500 per year on their energy bills.

Participants’ home value will be increased. The program will also provide financial support for state and local governments to help homeowners who can not afford upgrades.

Employment

Manufacturing jobs will increase as demand for energy-efficient appliances goes up. Because the program emphasizes products and materials made in the U.S., more Americans will be put back to work manufacturing these products. There will be a need for more vendors who are selling energy-efficient appliances, products and materials, and who are providing rebates. This will increase retail jobs as well.

Installation jobs are also expected to increase. Professionals will be needed for installation and maintenance services.

Energy Efficiency

* Homeowners will enjoy a more comfortable home interior – warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
* Because these home improvements are about saving energy, these upgrades will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
* Energy-efficient upgrades will reduce Americans’ dependence on oil.

Homestar is intended to help the economy and increase investment in green energy. The jobs that would be created as a result of this program cannot be outsourced.

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