Market News

 May 06, 2010
U.S. House approved $6 billion for home retrofit rebates

 The House of Representatives passed the $6 billion "cash for caulkers" program Thursday to give homeowners rebates of up to $8,000 for energy efficiency retrofits.

By a vote of 246 to 161, it passed the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, backed mostly by Democrats including President Obama and industry groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Association of Home Builders.

GOP members questioned the price tag at a time of mounting budget deficits. "We are going to authorize $6.6 billion of money we don't have so we can caulk homes?" asked House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio during debate, according to the Associated Press.

The Senate has yet to vote on the two-year program, which will give rebates for adding insulation, sealing ducts and installing efficient water heaters, heating units and windows. It also includes $600 million in grants to states for programs to replace mobile homes with more energy efficient models.

"Home Star is a practical, common sense investment in job creation and energy savings," says co-sponsor Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who estimates three million families will participate.

Rebates will be worth $1,500 per measure, capped at 50% of project costs or $3,000, whichever is less. They could reach $8,000 for a whole-house retrofit that's based on a thorough energy audit.