Recovery through Retrofit: The U.S. plan for Home Efficiency

recovery_through_retrofitIf you're in the middle-class and wondering how the green economy is going to help you, fret no longer, because V.P. Joe Biden is on top of it!  Today he revealed the report, Recovery Through Retrofit, which aims at expanding the home energy efficiency and retrofit market (which happens to be the same goals as this blog).

The introduction states:

Home retrofits can potentially help people earn money, as home retrofit workers, while also helping them save money, by lowering their utility bills. By encouraging nationwide weatherization of homes, workers of all skill levels will be trained, engaged, and will participate in ramping up a national home retrofit market.

The most important thing this report does is highlight some of the barriers impeding the public's adoption of home energy efficiency retrofits.  These barriers are:

  1. Access to information
  2. Access to financing
  3. Access to skilled workers

While the MapAWatt blog won't hand out loans or workers, we hang our hat on providing access to information.  We realize it's hard to figure out what the best new energy/water saving gadgets are on the market, where those gadgets work best, and are they worth the money.  Our goal is to provide information to individuals so they can be empowered to take action in their own homes.

We realize that educating the public on the basics of electricity and energy is a necessary first step to conservation, and one of the most popular blogs we have is "What's a kWh?" (it even includes a kWh calculator).

In addition to identifying the barriers, the report actually presents some solutions to overcoming those barriers.  One of my favorite solutions that addresses the financing barrier is something called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. The report defines this as follows:

The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs enable the costs for energy efficiency retrofits to be added to an owner’s property tax bill as part of a municipal property tax assessment, which takes the same priority as traditional property tax liens and assessments.

So instead of having to pay for the energy efficiency retrofits up front (which is difficult when everyone is cash-strapped), homeowners can have the cost added to the property tax bill.  Often the energy savings will more than pay for the addition to the property tax, making it a win-win for all.

It's good to see an administration firmly focused on helping Americans save money and energy all while improving local economies and environment.

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I've seen the "lease" alternative energy approach working somewhat in California and Arizona, but the problem in this economy is qualifying. I like the property tax approach better, if indeed the savings can approach the tax.

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