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Strengthening an Emerging Industry While Helping Families Save Money

The Vice President announces three new initiatives that will grow the sustainable home energy-efficiency industry and help middle-class families save money on their energy bills.

Last fall, the Middle Class Task Force and the Council on Environmental Quality released a report called Recovery Through Retrofit, which identified the key barriers standing in the way of strong and sustainable home energy-efficiency industry.  For the past year, we have been working with our partners across the federal government to address these barriers, and today, the Vice President announced three new initiatives that will grow this industry and help middle-class families save money on their energy bills. 

First, homeowners don’t have access to clear and reliable information about their home’s energy performance and how to improve it.  So today, the Department of Energy announced a program called Home Energy Score.   Using a new software tool, trained contractors will be able to go through a house in an hour or less and generate a report with two critical components:

  • First, an easy to understand graphic showing where the home’s energy performance rates on a scale of 1 to 10 and how that score compares to other homes in the area.   It’s like a miles-per-gallon label for your house.  
  • Second, a customized list of recommended improvements, with information on how much the homeowner’s energy bill would be reduced by each change.

To see a sample Home Energy Score, click here.

Homeowners armed with this information will be motivated to invest in energy upgrades. But even for motivated homeowners, there simply aren’t enough consumer-friendly financing options.  That’s the second big barrier and that’s why the Department of Housing and Urban Development has created a new program called PowerSaver to connect more homeowners with affordable, federally-insured loans for home energy upgrades.  This federal insurance is the key because it will draw private lenders in off the sidelines.   PowerSaver loans will have interest rates as low or lower than comparable financing options, and they will be more widely available because of the added incentive for lenders.

Finally, homeowners investing in a retrofit want to be sure that the work will be done right and produce the expected savings.  So the Department of Energy, the Department of Labor and other agencies worked closely with industry experts to draft a comprehensive set of workforce guidelines that are being released today.  Training providers can use the guidelines to strengthen existing courses or develop new ones. 

More and better training options will lead to a stronger workforce and greater consumer confidence.  And more consumer confidence leads to more demand for home energy upgrades, which leads to new jobs and more savings for middle-class families. 

For more information on all these new initiatives, click here.

Brian Levine is the Deputy Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President