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Schumer Calls on Administration 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

Erie County Families Could Save Up To $182 Million; Niagara County $42 M;

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Administration 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 Western New York 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 Western New York 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."


Earlier this month, President Obama proposed a new socalled "Cash for Caulkers" that would reimburse homeowners for energyefficient 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. The 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. Bigticket 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.


In Western NY, households could save up to $266 million annually. Here is how the numbers break down across Western New York counties:


  • In Erie County, households could save up to $182 million annually
  • In Niagara County, households could save up to $42 million annually
  • In Chautauqua County, households could save up to $26 million annually
  • In Cattaraugus County, households could save up to $16 million annually


Schumer today announced that he has 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 energyefficiency 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.


Schumer said that following these proposals will save homeowners hundreds of dollars a year and create goodpaying, 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.



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