Smoking Money

Little known fact: Most U.S. homeowners are smoking twenty-dollar bills. Sadly, it’s legal. In fact, it’s more than legal – the government encourages it.

Living in inefficient homes and working in inefficient buildings is like burning money because so much of the energy used in those buildings goes to waste. And generating that wasted energy by burning coal, natural gas, oil and biomass produces enormous smokestack pollution, not to mention the spew that is worsening global climate change.

Since most of us live in inefficient homes and apartments and work in inefficient buildings, we are all smoking money. The government has encouraged us with enormous subsidies to fossil fuels, regulations to keep utilities from being more efficient and slow, flailing action on efficiency rules and standards.

The Obama administration and the Center for American Progress (CAP) want change. They have proposed the HOME STAR rebate program, a $9 billion plan to jumpstart retrofitting by home and building owners for greater Energy Efficiency.

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The program has 2 parts, SILVER STAR (which promotes step-by-step spending for efficient equipment and upgrades) and GOLD STAR (which promotes comprehensive home makeovers). ::continue::

HOMESTAR would be done almost entirely through the private sector (with federal guidelines and oversight to assure high standards) and focus initially on residential retrofits (though it could eventually incorporate makeovers in commercial and industrial buildings and public facilities).

Not surprisingly, HOMESTAR also holds the potential to put gazillions of people back to work, from the energy experts who evaluate the buildings to the construction people who do the retrofitting to the factory workers who make the materials, appliances and equipment needed to do the job.

Furthermore, this is the kind of program that will help the U.S. regain its sense of self-reliance and self-respect.

There’s room for every helping hand in this one: It can save the economy, the environment and the polar bears.

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This post is based on HOME STAR…A Clean-Energy Home Is Where the Heart Is, Bracken Hendricks, December 22, 2009, Center for American Progress

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