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“Cash for Caulkers” Program Could Warm Homes and Lighten Energy Bills

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November 25, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio - You might think of it as "Cash for Caulkers." If a new federal "Home Star" program gets underway, it would help consumers save money for making energy-saving improvements to their homes. Both homeowners and landlords could get tax credits of up to $4,500 to pay one-half the cost of a comprehensive package of efficiency measures.

Dave Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, thinks the program could do a lot of good in Ohio.

"It will help solidify our housing base; it can produce a lot of jobs that can't be exported; and it really is the cheapest option for customers to heat and cool their homes and have access to electricity."

The plan, now under consideration by the Obama Administration, would give incentives to those who complete at least two significant weatherization projects, from better insulation to new appliances.

Over the life of the measure, households could reduce their energy use by an estimated 22 percent, says Rinebolt. It is often the steep upfront costs that keep folks from taking these steps, he adds, although rising gas and electricity prices make weatherization improvements a sensible investment.

"Utility customers need to realize that they end up paying for everything. If we can use a 'cash for caulkers' program and other financing options, it's the cheapest way to the cheapest bill."

No matter what the fate of Home Star, other resources are available for homeowners seeking energy efficiency options. Ohio utilities offer subsidies on energy-saving appliances, energy audit programs, and weatherization programs for walls, basements and attics. The Ohio Secretary of State has also established a low-interest loan program, and other state grants can reduce the costs of residential solar and wind systems.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH