New House Bill Promises Tax Rebates for Home Retrofits

April 5, 2012

A new bipartisan energy efficiency bill introduced by Reps. David McKinley (R-W.V.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) in the House of Representatives is designed is designed to help create jobs, save homeowners money and benefit the environment.  The Home Owner Managing Energy Savings (HOMES) Act would offer rebates to homeowners who invest in whole-house energy efficiency improvements.

The legislation calls for a $2,000 tax rebate for homeowners retrofitting their homes who can demonstrate a 20 percent energy savings will receive a $2,000 rebate. For every 5 percent in additional energy savings, they can receive another $1,000–up to a total of $8,000 or 50 percent of the project's cost.

The bill (H.R. 4230) would require that contractors are licensed and insured to install retrofits, and accredited by Building Performance Institute,  Residential Energy Services Network, or an equivalent certification program. All retrofits would include a test-out procedure, and some residences would be inspected by independent quality assurance providers, which may be qualified by BPI, RESNET, or another approved program. The measure also would direct states to establish quality assurance programs, including lists of qualified contractors, it is noted.

The legislation is modeled after the Welch-authored Home Star Energy Retrofit Act (H.R. 5019), which passed the House with bipartisan support in the 111th Congress. It is similar to The Cut Energy Bills at Homes Act (S. 1914) introduced by Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R‐Maine), Jeff Bingaman (D‐N.M.), and Dianne Feinstein (D‐Calif.) last fall. 

"Energy efficiency is not a partisan issue," Welch says. "Investments in efficiency create a win-win-win: They create jobs, save people money and reduce carbon emissions. This is a practical idea pioneered in Vermont. This legislation will take the Vermont experience to the rest of the country."

The HOMES Act has received the backing of over 40 key business, environmental, labor and nonprofit groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Natural Resources Defense Council, Efficiency First, Alliance to Save Energy, Council of the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association and Residential Energy Services Network. Companies supporting the bill include Jeld-Wen Inc. and Masco Corp.