U.S. Announces 3 New Energy Efficiency Programs
Initiatives include Home Energy Score program, federal loans for energy efficiency upgrades and workforce guidelines
In the ongoing quest for energy efficiency in the United States, the federal government has noted three key areas holding back progress. Dependable data, money for financing, and a skilled work force are areas that need improvement, and last week federal agencies addressed all three in a triple play approach to improving national energy efficiency.
The Home Energy Score program is rolling out in Portland, Oregon and another dozen cities, with expansion nationwide in 2011. The Home Energy Score allows contractors to analyze the energy usage of a home by entering data into an online program. It takes about an hour to complete the 40-point inspection, which includes an overview of insulation, windows, and cooling and heating systems. The program evaluates each item based on the data entered, generates a one-to-ten score (one being the lowest score), recommends improvements for energy efficiency, and gives an estimate of possible savings. Consumers can view a sample Home Energy Score on the DOE website.
The second part of the federal plan addresses financing with a pilot program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD will offer loans of up to $25,000 to qualified homeowners for energy efficiency upgrades. The Federal Housing Administration will back the loans and is seeking banks to participate in the two-year pilot which starts in early 2011 (pdf).
The Department of Energy joined the initiatives by releasing guidelines for the workers who will provide auditing and retrofitting services for increased energy efficiency. The Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades is intended to improve the quality of energy efficiency work, while supporting future training and a certification program.
By giving American families the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades, these initiatives will help further Obama's energy efficiency goals, help middle class families save money and energy and grow the home retrofit industry.