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'Cash for Caulkers' program offers rebates for green homeowners

By Associated Press
Friday, May 7, 2010; A09

The House approved a new economic stimulus bill Thursday that could lead to thousands of dollars in "Cash for Caulkers" rebates for homeowners who renovate their homes with better insulation and energy-saving windows and doors.

The Home Star bill, which passed 246 to 161, would authorize $5.7 billion over two years for a program that supporters, mostly Democrats, said would have the added benefits of invigorating the slumping construction industry and making the Earth a little cleaner.

"Home Star is that solid investment that's going to achieve that hat trick of energy savings for the homeowner, of moving toward a cleaner environment and of creating jobs here at home," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

Republicans overwhelmingly opposed the bill, H.R. 5019, and they were able to attach a condition that it would be terminated if Democrats do not come up with a way to pay for it.

President Obama praised the House vote, saying that the bill "will help jump-start job growth and demand for new products created right here in America" as well as save consumers money on energy bills.

The initiative is separate from an energy tax credit of up to $1,500 that was included in last year's economic stimulus act. That credit for energy-efficiency improvements runs through the end of this year.

Supporters estimate that 3 million households would make use of the new program, saving $9.2 billion in energy costs over a 10-year period. They said it would create 168,000 jobs, mainly in the recession-hit construction industry.

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