U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Dept. of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu recently announced the beginning of a program aimed at helping consumers save energy and money.
Starting as a pilot program, the Home Energy Score will target specific American cities and counties, namely Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; Charlottesville, Virginia; Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon; and Eagle County, Colorado. It will also focus on the states of Indiana, Minnesota, South Carolina and Texas.
In addition to helping homeowners save money, the program is also expected to provide more work and new jobs for contractors vested in residential energy efficiency. These contractors include those who install energy efficiency devices like energy efficient windows and exterior doors, insulation, energy-efficient furnaces and boilers, energy-efficient hot water heaters (notably solar hot water heaters), and energy-efficient light bulbs for improved lighting.
The process begins with a one-hour home assessment, from a trained and certified contractor using government software developed jointly by the DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Then, the home is given a rating, somewhere between 1 and 10, and also rated compared to other homes in the area. Finally, the report provides cost-effective recommendations specifically designed for each homeowner. New homes already have a lead on the 30-percent improvement goal thanks to the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code.
Funding for energy efficiency retrofits will be provided via the PowerSaver loan program, loans obtained from private lenders for up to 20 years and guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Chu are all hoping that the three-pronged program, called Recovery Through Retrofit (of which Home Energy Score is only one), will help ease the persistently high rate of unemployment, officially stated as 9.6%, though many states (in a swath from Michigan south and east to Virginia, and all along the West Coast up to Washington) show rates at or greater than 10 percent.
The third part of the program is a DOE-sponsored set of guidelines for workers in the energy efficiency industry, which will help develop and expand their skills. Called Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades, these rules will not only ensure quality work for homeowners, but will hopefully build a more vigorous and consistent energy efficiency certification and training program from coast to coast.
Interested homeowners in the designated areas should visit the Home Energy Score page. Readers can find out more interesting facts and recent news about energy efficiency by visiting Energy Boom’s Efficiency Learning Page.
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