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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


Cash for Caulkers: Is it worth your money?

May 10, 2010 - 6:00 AM | by: Jessica Weinstein

If you’d like a chance to make your home more energy-efficient on the government’s dime, listen up. In the latest congressional attempt to create green jobs, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to offer thousands of dollars in rebates to homeowners who want to weatherize and renovate their homes. It’s officially called the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act but is better known as “Cash for Caulkers.” The legislation authorizes $6 billion of your tax dollars for the program. Congress won’t find a way to pay for it until after the bill passes the U.S. Senate.

You can find out how much Home Star would cost you, by visiting FOX News’ Taxpayer Calculator where we break down the bill’s cost to you by your tax bracket.

The bill has two parts. The Silver Star program provides immediate rebates of up to $3,000 for specific energy-efficient improvements in a home, such as installing duct sealing, insulation or new windows.

A second Gold Star program would allow people access to rebates of up to $8,000 when they conduct comprehensive energy audits and implement measures that reduce energy use throughout their homes by more than 20 percent.

Chief sponsor, Rep. Peter Welch,D-Vt., tells FOX News it will create 168,000 jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries while helping homeowners save money and make their homes more energy-efficient.

“Local contractors are going to have work. Those local homeowners will save money this year, next year and every year, and then all of the products – 90 percent of these products are made in America,” he said.

“Is it a wise expenditure? Yes it is,” he continued.

It’s also the government’s second try at creating jobs this way. Last year’s economic stimulus act offered $4.7 billion for weatherization. This bill authorizes another $6 billion. Even supportive Republicans are concerned at the dollar amount.

“I think if the price had been lower, the Republicans would have been eager to vote for it,” said Rep. Vernon Ehlers,R-Mich., who co-sponsored the bill.

“They just don’t want to spend any more of the people’s money and that feeling is going to become more universal, the closer we get to the elections next Fall.”

Welch says Home Star opens the rebates to a broader group of people with a simpler, less bureaucratic approach than the program created under the stimulus.

“The weatherization program is a low-income targeted program that actually does have more layers of bureaucracy. It has to go through the Department of Energy, to the state, to a cap agency. This is a much simpler program that’s targeted to homeowners,” said Rep. Welch.

Home Star has garnered bipartisan support.

“This important piece of legislation will spur consumer demand for energy-efficient products and building materials by providing significant and immediate rebates for home energy-efficiency retrofits,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and former Republican Governor of Michigan, John Engler in a statement.

As it stands now, the bill is not paid for, and under House Rules, it must be. Welch says, he’ll recommend that the $6 billion come from unallocated stimulus dollars.

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate.

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