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Schumer Calls on Administration and Congress to Target New Program Prioritizing Aid to Communities With Older Housing Stock And To Give Funding Directly to Localities, Instead of Going Through State or Federal Middlemen

Schumer: "Cash for Caulkers" a Win-Win-Win for New York: Retrofit Thousands of Homes, Cut Energy Bills and Create American Jobs - Save Families up to $500 a Year or More on Their Utility Bills

Hudson Valley Families Could See Major Savings on Bills with New Program

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Administration and Congress to target its upcoming “Cash for Caulkers” program to communities that have older, less efficient energy housing stock, to maximize the program’s bang for the buck.  Schumer said that such a move would benefit all taxpayers, and would benefit the Hudson Valley because of its many older homes.  Schumer will also ask the Administration to send the funding directly to localities, bypassing federal and state middlemen that could slow down the funds’ delivery.  Early reports show that the average homeowner could save up to $500 per year or more on their utility bills, and that homeowners may be eligible to receive up to $12,000 in rebates for weatherizing their homes. 


“In order to get the most bang for the buck out of this Cash for Caulkers program, we need to target the program to areas where the retrofits will have the most effect in saving energy and homeowners will save the most money: places like the Hudson Valley that have a huge supply of older homes,” Schumer said. “Prioritizing aid to communities with older housing stock, like those all over New York, and giving the funding directly to localities is the fastest and most effective way to put contractors back to work and put money back in homeowner’s pockets.”


“There are hundreds of people like Ms. Powers and thousands of older homes in Yonkers that could benefit from energy efficient caulking and weatherization,” said Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick. “This is great use of money because it cannot be outsourced overseas. It must be spent in Yonkers, New York State and throughout the nation. I thank Sen. Charles Schumer for fighting for the working people of Yonkers and proposing this very timely piece of legislation.”  



In December, President Obama proposed a new so-called “Cash for Caulkers” that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy. While the Administration hasn’t yet provided immediate details of the programs, early reports said a homeowner could receive up to $12,000 in rebates. In the coming weeks, the United States Senate is likely to take up a jobs bill that may include the Cash for Caulkers program. The proposed program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space.


The plan will likely create a new program where private contractors conduct home energy audits, buy the necessary gear and install it, according to the Senate Energy Committee. Big-ticket items like air conditioners, heating systems, washing machines, refrigerators, windows and insulation would likely be covered.


Under the program, consumers could be eligible for a 50% rebate on both the price of the equipment and the installation, up to $12,000. Homes that take full advantage of the program could see their energy bills drop as much as 20 percent, yielding up to $480 in savings for the average New York homeowner.  If residents of Westchester County were to take full advantage of the program, they could collectively save up to $163,000,000 a year.  Residents of Rockland could save $45,000,000 and residents of Putnam could save $16,000,000 a year. 


 In December, Schumer sent a personal letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking him, as the Administration crafts its Cash for Caulkers program, to do so in a way that directs funding in two ways in order to maximize the effectiveness of the program.


First, Schumer said the funding should be targeted to communities with older homes. By completing retrofits on older homes that were originally designed and constructed without energy efficiency in mind, the new upgrades can provide a maximum conservation benefit.  Distributing the money this way would also greatly benefit New York.  New York’s housing stock is one of the nation’s oldest – 76 percent of New York’s homes were built before 1970, when energy was cheap and accessible, and technology to produce energy-efficiency was unavailable. As new technologies have made weatherization possible and energy prices have increased, Upstate New York’s housing units have not kept up, meaning utility bills have risen. On average, New York families spend $2,400 on utility expenses each year. For many residents of New York, this often means spending 15% or more of their monthly income on utility costs.


Second, Schumer also said at least a portion of the funding should go directly to municipalities, rather than be funneled through the states. This will ensure funding gets injected in to working programs quicker, with the desperately needed economic and environmental benefits reaped sooner.


 In the letter, Schumer said that following these proposals will save homeowners hundreds of dollars a year and create good-paying, American jobs all at the same time. He also said that the investment in helping people weatherize their homes makes good fiscal sense as it will reduce dependence on other oversubscribed federal home heating programs like LIHEAP.


As the United States Senate moves toward legislative action on Cash for Caulkers, Schumer will continue to advocate for New York’s families by insisting that they money be targeted in a way that produces the most bang for the buck.



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