President Carter's wide-ranging energy-conservation program includes several proposals that are expected to affect home owners.
While it is unlikely that home systems might be retrofitted for the use of coal - once a primary home heating fuel in much of America and still used in the Pennsylvania anthracite region at about $58 a ton - there are proposed incentives for using solar energy instead of gas, oil or electricity.
For instance, Americans have been showing increasing interest in installing solar systems, typically costing about $1,200 range, to heat their hot water.
President Carter has proposed a tax credit of 40 per cent on the first $1,000 spent on a home solar system and 25 per cent on the next $6,400, for a maximum credit of $2,000 credit, as an incentive for homeowners.
Solar systems now cost about $6,000 or more.
Commercial production of such systems has been increasing in recent years - while heating and cooling bills across America have risen to the "hurt" point. A spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, national organization of 557 solar manufacturers and contractors, called the President's proposal "heartening."
Insulating firms in this area also are jumping on the conservation wagon, proclaiming the energy and cost-saving features of additional insulation and "house sealing" measures. The Carter proposal would provide a tax credit for 25 per cent of the first $800 and 15 per cent on the next $1,400 spent on such energy-saving measures.
Meanwhile, the Research Foundation of the National Association of Home Builders is completing a model "energy efficient residence" in Mt. Airy, Md. Built by builder David C. Smith, the house was designed by the foundation under a contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Some of the energy-saving features include a highly insulated and sealed enclosure, triple-glazed windows, a special new heat pump, extra efficient appliances of the sort cited by the President and a family retreat area off the kitchen that can be closed off from the rest of the house. The house will be opened for public inspection in Mid-May.
As energy bills escalated sharply in recent years, more and more home builders have been adding conservation features to their houses. The record cold in January was additional impetus.
Energy-saving packages and programs now almost routinely include heat pump systems, steel-clad doors, caulking at corner joints, sill sealers between masonry and wood connections around windows, blanket and blown insulation in attic floors and walls, and other features.