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RISMEDIA, March 9, 2010—Home energy efficiency incentives proposed by President Barack Obama will create much-needed jobs and help make America more energy independent, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Speaking recently in Savannah, GA., President Obama outlined a $6 billion proposal to provide cash rebates to home owners who make energy-saving home improvements.

“This has the potential to be a real shot in the arm for the home building industry,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “It will help put America back to work and it will help families save on monthly energy bills.”

NAHB economists estimate that every $1 billion in remodeling and home improvement activity generates 11,000 jobs, $527 million in wages and salaries, and $300 million in business income.

Administration officials estimate that up to four million households could benefit from the program, officially known as Homestar, but dubbed “Cash for Caulkers” by many in Congress and the media.

“Making the existing housing stock more energy efficient is one of the most effective ways to achieve national energy conservation goals,” Jones added. “In the long run this can be an important step in reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign energy supplies.”

A program managed by the Builders Association of Minnesota (BAM) could serve as a model for the president’s proposed initiative, Jones said. That program has served as the conduit for federal stimulus program funds provided to the state for its energy-efficiency programs. The association has trained 1,000 remodelers and other residential contractors and funneled the money to 1,400 Minnesota home owners to help them make needed improvements.

Minnesota home owners got extra incentives for choosing projects like attic insulation, which some consumers don’t do because it’s something that’s not immediately visible, but when combined with incentives can bring a payback on utility bills within a year or two, depending on the climate.

“The president and Congress should look to the Minnesota program as an excellent example of how the proposal could work nationally,” Jones said.

While NAHB supports the president’s residential retrofit initiative, there are concerns about some of the implementing details as the program has been proposed in various legislative drafts.

“For this effort to be successful, the opportunities must be equally accessible to everyone,” Jones said. “We need to make sure that Congress does not put up barriers that would keep this program from reaching its full potential.”

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