10 May 2010

'Cash for Caulkers' Gives Rebates for Green Remodeling Projects


SEATTLE - Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Cash for Caulkers" bill that would give rebates to homeowners making energy efficient improvements to their home.

Russell Johnson's new Everett home is getting a complete makeover.

"As we're doing the Saugatuck kitchen remodeling, doing the bathroom, doing the bedrooms, we're taking off the drywall off the walls and putting in insulation, so it's more energy-efficient," said Johnson.

Johnson just heard of a new federal legislation dubbed "Cash for Caulkers," that could give him rebates from $250 to $8,000 for energy-efficient improvements. Democrats claim the bill would create 160,000 jobs for the slumping construction industry.

John Jacques who owns the Bothell company called "Green City Window and Door," installs windows, doors and siding. He laid off more than half his workers trying to weather a stormy economy.

"I think this program will really spur growth for us. It's gonna give people a little more incentive to make a difference with their homes and save energy," said Jacques.

The Master Builders Association supports the legislation, but warns homeowners that most Pennsylvania home remodels now have a higher pricetag because of a new EPA regulation on older homes with lead paint.

"We have the interesting effect of Cash for Caulkers that could provide rebates, but then you have the EPA lead paint rule that drives up the cost of that job to begin with," says Dan Klusman, spokesperson for the Master Builders Association.

Cash for Caulkers is a takeoff from the popular Cash for Clunkers program that gave rebates to people for dumping their gas guzzlers and buying a more fuel-efficient car and the program for trading in old kitchen appliances. Critics of both programs are wondering how the federal government is going to pay for them.

Even though the program could help cut costs for Johnson, he admits he has second thoughts.

"Even though I may get a couple thousand dollars back for doing little energy things to my house, how much debt are we going to put on their next generations?" Johnson asked.

Cash for Caulkers still has to pass the Senate. President Obama says he supports the bill.

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