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President Outlines 'Cash for Caulkers' Program

President Obama announced a program of rebates for home energy efficiency work which would refund up to $3,000 on qualified energy conservation work.

Called the HOMESTAR program, the Federal subsidy would give point of purchase rebates for new appliances and home renovations.

The White House said that unemployment in the construction industry is about 25% and that this $6 billion program would provide jobs for workers in that sector.

Its first level would be called Silver Star, and would receive $1,000 to $1,500 for purchases such as insulation work or energy-efficient refrigerators, up to 50% of the purchase price.

A more extensive Gold Star program would provide $3,000 in rebates when an energy audit is conducted and a plan is implemented that would cut home energy use by 20%. Additional monies could be available for programs that reduce energy use by more than 20%.

Also, the government said it would apply quality standards for the products and contractors who were eligible for the rebate-qualifying work.

The certification to show competency in energy retrofit work can cost between $800 and $1,000, the Christian Science Monitor quoted an expert as saying. Start-up investment for providing the services could be about $5,000, it continued.

Here is a draft of the HOMESTAR legislation.

Senate Committee Hearing on Homestar

On March 11, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on the Homestar proposal. For prepared testimony and an archive Web video, click here. Note, the Senate-supplied video has a 20 minute lead time which can be avoided by clicking into the timer bar.