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November 18, 2009

Home Energy Efficiency: Cash for Caulkers

 This post was written by Jeff Speir, apprentice for the Sierra Club Clean Energy Solutions Campaign.

Sealing a door frameFollowing in the wake of the consumer, economic, and environmental success of the "Cash for Clunkers" program this summer, the Obama administration is considering using stimulus cash to fund another ambitious, rewarding "Cash for" project. This time? Caulkers.

Though conveniently coined with a consistent catchphrase, the program would involve much more than just caulking. The program would provide funding for homeowners to contract energy auditors and construction workers to assess areas for energy efficiency improvement in their homes. These points of air infiltration and "exfiltration," such as leaky doors, windows, and ducts, dramatically increase the amount of heated or cooled air that is necessary to make a home livable. After the assessment, construction workers would conduct an energy efficiency upgrade of the home by installing insulation, replacing inefficient windows, and sealing leaky breaches of the home's overall envelope (like the door-frame sealing in the photo above, or the insulating of hot water pipes in the photo below).

 As a result, less energy would be needed to make a home comfortable, thereby reducing energy consumption and cutting energy bills. The program would also create good jobs with skills that are transferable to a wide variety of applications in the green economic recovery. In addition toInsulating a hot water pipe helping consumers and creating jobs, the program would also help the environment.

Studies estimat
e that improving the energy efficiency of a home can reduce energy consumption by 28%, energy that comes largely from polluting coal-fired power plants. As the New York Times reports, this kind of reduction of energy usage is equivalent in magnitude to the carbon emissions from half of the vehicles in the country on the road today.

Want to learn more about what you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your home? Check out the Sierra Club Cool Cities Checklist of Home Energy Solutions.

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