FAS has created two energy‐efficiency proposals for a potential economic stimulus package. The first is a straightforward expansion of the DOE Weatherization Assistance Program, which has delivered significant results in carbon reduction and energy efficiency but is starved of resources. The second is a new program of grants for point‐of‐sale home energy retrofits loosely based on the Weatherization model. Including this program in a stimulus package would reduce US carbon emissions, provide green jobs in the construction industry, and increase the value of US homes. These proposals are needed because:
- Jobs in construction have been hard hit by the crisis in housing finance. Total employment in the industry has fallen by 663,000 jobs since its peak in 2006. In October 2008, 10.8 percent of construction workers were unemployed – one of the highest rates of any industry.
- Rising energy bills are an increasing burden for all Americans but hit low‐income households particularly hard. This program would cut energy bills for low‐income households, whose average energy bill increased by more than 44% since 2001 (Average households in the US spent $1,817 in energy in 2005, the last year for which omprehensive data are available).
- Buildings consume 72% of all US electricity generation and are responsible for 40% of all US carbon dioxide emissions, a larger fraction than either the transportation or industrial sectors. It will be extremely difficult to reach the 80% reduction in CO2 called for in the President‐elect’s campaign without aggressively addressing building energy efficiency.
- The infrastructure for a major retrofit program is in place at the federal and state levels, and at utilities. Unemployed construction workers have the necessary skills and unskilled workers can be trained quickly. Jobs would be created where people live, and could not be outsourced.
- Retrofits that include federal funds would increase the value of homes in the program and provide quality assurance that would further increase home value.
The primary goals of these proposals include:
- Getting construction workers and newly trained retrofitters jobs within weeks of the
availability of funds.
- Ensuring that the highest possible fraction of residential and commercial buildings is
given energy retrofits at the time of sale.
- Encouraging retrofits up to the full cost‐effective level, at marginal utility avoided costs
including a carbon price5 of $25/ton CO2, by combining federal funds with utility capital
investment and home‐buyer contributions.