You can now start to consider some home renovations (or at least think about buying a new air conditioner). Last night in a 246-161 vote, the House passed the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, a $5.7 billion economic stimulus bill that would give rebates for energy-saving home improvements.
The purpose of this bill, affectionately dubbed “Cash for Caulkers,” is two-fold: Stimulate sales in the construction industry while promoting energy efficiency and other green initiatives.
Those opposed to the bill cite one major problem.
"This is not a terribly bad bill, but it has one fatal flaw: It is not paid for," Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, top Republican on the energy committee, told The Associated Press.
As a result of this complaint, a measure was added to terminate the bill if it’s found to drive up the federal deficit. Supporters (i.e. Democrats) maintain they will find a way to fund the program when the bill goes to the Senate this summer.
Cash for Caulkers is similar in theory to last year’s Car Allowance Rebate System (more commonly known as Cash for Clunkers), which offered monetary incentives to car buyers who traded in their gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient vehicles. While the program’s environmental effects were minimal (most swaps resulted in only marginally better fuel consumption rates), Cash for Clunkers did successfully boost auto sales.