Congress Moves on Homestar Program

by Ryan Scholl on March 30, 2010

Last week the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee reviewed proposals to create programs that would make our homes and buildings substantially more energy efficient. Specifically, the committee held hearings on the Home Star residential retrofit program, which if passed would provide rebates and incentives to consumers who invest in new energy efficient appliances, weatherize their homes, or purchase other efficient technologies for their home.

About forty percent of Americaís energy is used in our buildings. This translates to approximately ten percent of the entire globe’s energy consumption. Unfortunately, a huge amount of this energy is wasted due to poor insulation, inefficient lighting, heating, and cooling systems, and overly energy intensive appliances. Beyond the carbon emissions and other environmental impacts associated with energy production and use, this lost energy places a significant financial burden on American families and businesses.

The good news is that we currently have the resources to turn this ship around, including cutting edge technology, the know-how and a workforce that is ready to retrofit our homes and commercial buildings to make them vastly more efficient, and to dramatically reduce pollution.

Although perhaps not the sexiest or visible bills moving in Congress, these programs would reduce energy consumption by the equivalent of three coal-fired power plants each year, save consumers who opt in from $200-$500 per year, AND help create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs in just a few short years. With the impacts of global warming becoming more and more evident and improvement in the economic situation in question, benefits like those are hard to ignore.

Environment America’s Clean Energy Associate Alex Wall commended the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee for “highlighting policies, such as Home Star, that would reduce global warming pollution immediately, put Americans to work in clean energy jobs, and save families and businesses money on energy costs. Home and business owners need incentives and financing mechanisms that make it feasible to invest in making their buildings more energy efficient and to reap the tremendous benefits for our economy and our environment.”

Environment America is a federation of state-based, citizen funded environmental groups working for clean air, clean water, and open space. www.environmentamerica.org

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