The Home Star program — otherwise known as "Cash for Caulkers" — looks to be edging closer to reality.
There are multiple proposals in front of Congress, and while the details vary, the basics are relatively similar. The total pool of money for the program looks to be somewhere in the $6 billion to $10 billion range for home energy retrofits.
Unlike the existing tax credits passed as part of the stimulus last year, Home Star would provide immediate rebates for homeowners who undertake energy retrofits. The money would be instantly available, addressing one of the key complaints remodelers have about the existing credits.
There are two levels of projects eligible for rebates under the Home Star proposal:
Supporters have gotten behind the proposal, including trade associations, building product manufacturers, environmental groups and even the president and vice president.
NAHB is putting its powerful lobbying weight behind the proposal as well and points to Project ReEnergize, a Minnesota program that provided $2.5 million in state grants for middle-class homeowners for specific energy-efficiency projects, as a model of how such a program can invigorate spending.
The association is also supporting a proposal by Rep. David Reichert, R-Wash., that would extend the existing credits (due to expire at the end of the year) for five more years and increase them from $1,500 to $5,000.