WASHINGTON, DC – November 10, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) praised the White House’s announcement of several new federal agency actions related to the Recovery through Retrofit initiative, which is an interagency effort designed to lay the groundwork for a strong, self-sustaining home energy efficiency retrofit industry, and to provide homeowners with the necessary information to make cost-effective decisions about home energy improvements.
“I commend the Obama administration’s efforts to encourage home energy efficiency and expand the home energy retrofit industry. As I often say, the cleanest, most affordable energy is the energy we do not use. This is a great step the administration is taking to help our economy and our environment,” said Sen. Carper. “Promoting programs like these is a sensible way to help Delawareans, and all Americans, overcome barriers to lower their energy costs as well as foster business opportunities and job growth. This is why I’m proud to support legislation like the Home Star bill, and I’m hopeful that my colleagues and I will be able to reach an agreement on this much-needed legislation when we return for the lame duck session.”
The announcement culminates an 18-month-long interagency effort facilitated by CEQ with the Office of the Vice President, 11 departments and agencies and six White House offices. The interagency working group has addressed the recommendations laid out in the October 2009 Middle Class Task Force Recovery Through Retrofit report, which identified homeowners’ lack of access to information and consumer-friendly financing options, as well as a lack of skilled workers, as the key barriers to a strong nationwide market for home energy upgrades. The initiatives announced today include:
o The Home Energy Score program
o The FHA PowerSaver loan program
o New Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades and Healthy indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades
o Small Business Administration Green Business Opportunities Course
Home Energy Score program: DOE has developed a voluntary new Home Energy Score program that will help homeowners make cost-effective decisions about home energy improvements. Trained and certified contractors will be able to use a newly developed energy software tool to generate:
o A Home Energy Score between 1 and 10, which will be presented as part of a simple graphic that will help homeowners understand their home’s current efficiency level and how it compares to other homes in the area.
o An estimate of how much money could be saved by making energy retrofits.
o A personalized list of recommended improvements, with estimated annual savings and an estimated payback period for each upgrade.
DOE will launch the Home Energy Score this fall through a pilot program in select regions across the country before making the voluntary program available everywhere. For those pilots in rural areas, USDA Rural Development will partner with DOE and rural electric cooperatives to increase participation and improve home energy efficiency in rural America. To see a sample Home Energy Score, please visit www.eere.energy.gov/pdfs/homeenergyscore.pdf.
A New Financing Option – PowerSaver Loans: FHA PowerSaver is a new financing option, developed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which will enable homeowners to make energy saving improvements to their homes through affordable federally-insured loans from private lenders. Homeowners will be able to borrow money for terms as long as 20 years to make energy improvements of their choice, based on a list of proven, cost-effective measures developed by FHA and DOE. FHA’s approval and monitoring procedures will ensure that PowerSaver loans are only offered by responsible, qualified lenders. PowerSaver will begin as a two-year pilot program. For more information, please visit www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/title/ti_home.cfm.
Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades: DOE and DOL, with support from the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency, have created voluntary guidelines that identify the skills and knowledge necessary for workers in the home energy retrofit industry. The Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades can be adopted by training providers to improve retrofit course curriculum and training programs. In addition, DOE will work with the Weatherization Assistance Program, Recovery Act grantees, and other federal retrofit programs to put the Workforce Guidelines into practice across the country. The Guidelines, which were drafted with input from a wide range of industry stakeholders, are designed to foster the growth of a skilled workforce that will increase homeowners’ confidence in the retrofit industry. Before finalizing the Workforce Guidelines, DOE invites the public and industry to provide comments at www.weatherization.energy.gov/retrofit_guidelines.
Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades: The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades serves as a companion document to the Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades. These protocols provide the recommended actions necessary to maintain or improve indoor air quality and resident health when performing home energy retrofits. Before finalizing the Protocols, EPA invites the public to provide comments at www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/retrofits.html.
SBA’s Green Business Opportunities Course: The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) new online course, Green Business Opportunities: A Small Business Guide, provides training for entrepreneurs who are looking to enter the home energy retrofit market. The course provides free business counseling and information for those seeking to launch a new business or expand an existing business in the energy efficiency market. This training opportunity is free and available on SBA Office of Entrepreneurship Education’s website at www.sba.gov/training.
For more information on all these initiatives, please visit www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/fact_sheet_recovery_through_retrofit.pdf.
Emily Spain (202) 224-2441