May 20, 2021

Van Hollen, Welch Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Cut Energy Costs for Homeowners, Invest in Clean Energy Jobs & Technology

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.), along with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Representative David McKinley (R-W.Va.) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help homeowners retrofit their homes to cut their monthly energy costs, stimulate the energy efficiency market for jobs and suppliers, invest in workforce training for this crucial industry, and combat the climate crisis by promoting clean, energy efficient technology. Their legislation, the HOPE for HOMES Act, was also cosponsored on the House side by Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), and David Trone (D-Md.).

As we look to tackle the climate emergency, one of our best tools to do so is improving energy efficiency in American homes. Not only will this cut down on energy costs for everyday Americans, it will reduce our energy output across-the-board. Energy efficient retrofits save consumers nearly $800 billion each year on their energy bills and are responsible for more than $540 million in public health benefits annually. Additionally, the energy efficiency industry – which employed more than 2.3 million Americans prior to the pandemic – has been hit hard by COVID-19, with reports finding that the energy efficiency sector shed nearly 272,000 jobs, or 11% of the EE workforce, since the beginning of the pandemic. The HOPE for HOMES Act aims to address both of these issues at once. This bipartisan legislation will help the energy efficiency sector retain jobs and invest in much-needed training to create new opportunities in the workforce. It will also provide rebates to Americans looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, driving more interest in these technologies and increasing demand.

“Addressing the climate emergency is not just an urgent challenge – it’s also an opportunity to create jobs and save Americans money. The HOPE for HOMES Act does just that – growing the job market and investing in training for working Americans while saving homeowners money on their energy costs. What’s more, this legislation will help us deploy renewable energy technologies across the U.S. in our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. This is a win-win-win. That’s why I was glad to see President Biden include this concept in his American Jobs Plan – and why I’ll continue pushing until we pass this critical legislation,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“The energy efficiency sector has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Representative Welch. “This legislation is critical to provide immediate assistance to a green jobs industry devastated by the pandemic, while making long term investments to encourage home efficiency and strengthen the green economy. This practical, bipartisan bill is a win-win-win for green jobs, homeowners, and the environment.”

“The energy sector has been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This bill adds immediate assistance by helping create jobs, while investing in long-term solutions on reducing energy cost for homeowners. Job creation across all energy sectors is going to help our economy get back to where it was before the health and economic crisis. This legislation is just commonsense and a win for the environment and economy,” said Representative McKinley.

“As we get our economy on the road to recovery, Congress should look to support hard-hit sectors like energy efficiency, which is important to help address our long-term energy and environmental needs. This legislation helps us do just that by stimulating job creation in local communities, while also investing in sustainable solutions to enhance energy efficiency that reduce energy costs for American homeowners,” said Senator Shaheen. “This is bipartisan, commonsense legislation that I believe lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can get behind.” 

“To bolster recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, we need to do everything we can to support job growth and cut costs for homeowners in Delaware and across the country,” said Senator Coons. “The HOPE for HOMES Act does both – it will spur a green recovery by supporting home energy efficiency retrofits that save homeowners money and increase demand for energy efficiency workers, all while helping to combat climate change by promoting clean energy technologies and jobs.” 

“America’s residential buildings are a vital piece of our infrastructure and the men and women who work to decrease the energy use of our homes while making them healthier and more resilient are a key part of our nation’s energy workforce. The HOPE for HOMES Act helps small businesses invest in training their residential contractors to provide important energy upgrades to homes while helping homeowners undertake those projects through an innovative rebate program. This bill is a win for our country, our workers, our economy, and the environment,” said Steve Skodak, President and CEO of the Building Performance Association. 

The HOPE for HOMES Act will:

·       Create rebates for homeowners to invest in energy efficiency improvements, including:

o   $800 to add insulation to their home.

o   $1,500 for adding insulation and replacing part of their HVAC system.

o   $2,500 for adding insulation and the installation of an air source or ground source heat pump.

o   $2,000 for retrofits that lead to modeled or measured savings of 20-35% of whole-house or multifamily building energy use.

o   $4,000 for retrofits that lead to modeled or measured savings of 35% of whole-house or multifamily building energy use.

o   Doubling the rebate amount for moderate income families.

o   A rebate based on actual energy savings, per kilowatt hour, for homes and multifamily buildings that demonstrate measured energy savings of at least 15%.

o   An additional $200 rebate for each retrofit completed in an underserved community.

·       Authorize $500 million in grants to help develop training curriculums and assist companies in providing financial incentives to contractors to undertake online training to advance their capabilities to efficiently retrofit homes.

·       Provide $1,000 per employee rehired, up to $10,000 total, to contracting companies willing to cover the costs of training and technology upgrades needed to achieve online learning.

·       Provide a $1,000 stipend to contractors who complete the HOPE Training and are prepared to advance their careers and help homeowners with home retrofits.

A fact sheet on the bill is available here. Full text of the bill is available here. A letter from stakeholders is available here.

Over 30 organizations have endorsed this bill, including: Advanced Energy Economy, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Association for Energy Affordability, Inc., Basement Health Association, Building Performance Association (BPA), Building Performance Institute, Connecticut Efficiency for All, Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN), E4TheFuture, Energy Efficiency Alliance – New Jersey, High Performance Insulation Professionals (HPIP), Institute for Market Transformation , Insulation Contractors Association of America (ICAA), Johnson Controls, Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, Knauf Insulation, LIUNA, Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC LLC, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) , National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), National Center for Healthy Housing, National Housing Trust, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), PACE Nation, Piedmont Housing Alliance, Pearl Certification, Recurve, Sierra Club, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), U.S. Green Building Council, VEIC.