Builder Rebate Program Helps Owners Weatherize Homes
During a press conference at NAHB’s International Builders’ Show last month, a remodeler, a window manufacturer and the executive officer for the Builders Association of Minnesota (BAMN) explained how their state’s "Project ReEnergize" can serve as a model for other states interested in creating jobs and increasing residential energy efficiency.
As part of its economic stimulus package, the Obama Administration made money available to state agencies for the purpose of weatherizing homes and generating jobs.
When some Minnesota agencies could not disburse Obama Administration stimulus funds for weatherizing homes quickly enough, the state turned to the home builders association, which in short order was able to train and certify contractors and insulation installers to make improvements to 1,400 homes, said Pam Perri Weaver, BAMN's executive officer.
Consumers were eligible for rebates when they hired certified contractors to replace windows, but they received even more money if their home's insulation was upgraded as well. That was an important incentive because it's hard to convince home owners to make improvements that in the end, they can't see, said Minnesota remodeler Shawn Nelson, a Project ReEnergize participant. "Air sealing is not a visual upgrade," he said.
About 90% of the windows in today's homes are older, single-pane glass and much less efficient than modern double-pane, triple-pane and argon-filled products, noted Maureen McDonough of Andersen Windows. The manufacturer was able to call back 600 of its laid-off employees as a result of the new federal energy-efficiency tax credit and window orders from Project ReEnergize contractors, she added.
There were no income limits for home owners participating in the program, but the homes could be no larger than 3,000 square feet and had to be built before the year 2000, when more stringent state energy codes were mandated. Homes receiving the rebate were an average 1,800 square feet and 45 years old, Weaver said.
The home builders association is ready to start the program up again when and if additional federal funding becomes available. "We have a list of people who are waiting," because most consumers are reluctant to make the upgrades without the financial incentives, Nelson said.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.
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