The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) revealed a new program yesterdayintended to show homeowners across the country where their home ranks in energy efficiency and how much money they can save by makingimprovements.
Undersecretary of Energy Cathy Zoi drew similar comparisons betweenthe new Home Energy Score initative and the efficiency rating systemthe U.S. Department of Transportation uses to grade vehicles. Qualifiedinspectors will inspect the homes and enter their findings into anonline program that will do three things: generate a ranking forthe home on a one to 10 scale, predict how much a home’s score can beimproved upon if energy efficient upgrades are made and calculate howmoney homeowners will save by making the improvements.
Officials told the USATODAY that the new audits will be tested in nine communitiesbefore going national in summer 2011. They will cost less than half ofwhat the current private audits cost now, which can sometimes top $350.After going through the audit, homeowners will be eligible for federally insured Power Saver Loans of up to $25,000 for energy efficientupgrades. The loans will run under a two-year pilot program beginningin 2011, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)estimates that 24,000 households will qualify for an average loan of$12,500 during the two-year test run.
The loans will cover energy efficiency improvements such as ductsealing, insulation, doors and windows, water heaters, solar panels,geothermal systems and HVAC systems. Both the new energy audit systemand Power Saver loans are part of the Obama administration’s attempt to improve home energyefficiency across the nation. The loans were born out of Vice PresidentJoe Biden’s Middle Class Task Force intended to expand green jobopportunities and energy efficiency nationwide. According to VicePresident Biden, over 200,000 U.S. homes have already been retrofittedthrough the program.
A detailed audit system that shows homeowners cost savings could go a long way toward boosting that 200,000 figure. Earlier this month, theAmerican Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy issued a report saying that homeowners will trim their energy use only if they know how much energy they use, receive feedback on their consumption and aregiven incentives to cut back.
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