I have to admit that I was not overly thrilled with some of President Barack Obama’s past stimulus packages, particularly the bail outs of failed financial institutions and troubled automakers. (Isn’t it awesome that Ford, which didn’t participate in the federal bailout, just passed GM in domestic auto sales?)

On the other hand, I liked the first-time home buyer credit and support the Obama Administration’s HOMESTAR Energy Efficienty Retrofit Program, aka “Cash for Caulkers” proposal. I especially like the idea of putting money back into the pockets of consumers by creating incentives for them to invest in home improvements aimed at increasing energy efficiency.

In a nutshell, HOMESTAR would provide rebates direct to consumers at the moment of purchase, much like the infamous “Cash for Clunkers” program. There would be two major rebate programs: “Silver Star” and Gold Star.”

Under the “Silver Star” rebate, consumers would be eligible for getting back 50% up to $1,500 for simple upgrades like insulation, water heaters, windows, doors and roofing. Using a combination of rebates by performing multiple improvements, consumers would receive a maximum of $3,000 per home. What’s more, the program puts a premium on products made primarily in the United States and installed by certified contactors.

Under the “Gold Star” rebate, consumers would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate on a improvements designed to achieve at least 20% in energy savings. Projects audited to achieve better than 20% in energy savings could result in additional rebates.

The National Association of Home Builders was quick to throw its support behind the President’s plan. NAHB economists estimate that every $1 billion in remodeling and home improvement activity generates 11,000 jobs, $527 million in wages and salaries, and $300 million in business income.

By giving homeowners incentives to make their houses more energy efficient, the opportunity to restore building product sales, jobs and put money back into the hands of consumers in the form of instant rebates and lower energy bills is a winner all around.

Anybody agree or disagree?


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