Obama still thinks insulation is 'sexy' — kicks off Cash for Caulkers

President Barack Obama is launching a $6 billion Cash for Caulkers program today, offering financial incentives to people who weatherize their homes, making them more energy efficient and conservation friendly. In December, the president called insulation “sexy.” That might be a stretch, but the need for dramatic improvements in energy efficiency isn’t.

The administration hasn’t had to try very hard to build a compelling case around energy conservation: it obviously can save average consumers a lot of money on of their electricity bills. People love cash in hand, especially if they don’t have to do a whole lot to get it. That’s the idea behind Cash for Caulkers — a witty play on last year’s Cash for Clunkers program that rewarded consumers for converting to fuel-efficient vehicles. (The new program has been officially dubbed HomeStar, but no one is calling it that.)

Cutting down on your regular energy use is more vital than ever before. The amount of energy being used in the U.S. continues to go up, taxing grids and power plants alike. And electric cars haven’t even really hit the road yet. Integrating these huge power sucks into neighborhood grids could lead to frequent outages and a spike in utility maintenance costs — leading of course to a hike in monthly electricity bills. This is a very real and serious problem without any swift or immediate solutions.

The good news is that very basic efficiency measures like caulking or replacing windows and doors, beefing up insulation and otherwise weatherizing suburban homes could save an astounding amount of energy across the country. Families that opt to weatherize save an average of $350 a year, analysts say. That’s more than a month’s-worth of electricity.

The Cash for Caulkers program will provide rebates of up to $3,000 to people making these upgrades via home improvement stores, installation contractors and even utilities. The idea is to slash the cost burden for consumers, while simultaneously stimulating job growth in the relevant construction and manufacturing sectors. Obama seeks to help the planet and the economy in one swoop.

Right now, the administration is predicting 2 to 3 million households will take it up on this offer. And just like Cash for Clunkers, the program will be limited to a specific time period.

[Image via WhiteHouse.gov]

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