by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 03. 2.10

Cash for Caulkers

President Obama is set to announce a new residential renovation funding program that they call a “triple win”: a jolt to the sickly construction industry, saving Americans money on their energy bills and reducing dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. Last month they might have called it a “quadruple win” and mentioned greenhouse gas reductions, but they don’t do that any more, Senator Inhofe would complain.

If they do it right, the six billion dollar program can create a lot of jobs; caulking and sealing is labor intensive, and can put a lot of people to work. But with the power of modern media, it is really easy to do it wrong.

When Planet Green started out, we did a series of posts based on a terrific document prepared by the Rocky Mountain Institute: Cool Citizens: Everyday Solutions to Climate Change: Household Solutions, that looked at the cost of a renovation item, the amount of energy and carbon it saved, and calculated the bang for the buck. It is now eight years old and much has changed, as fuel got more expensive and compact fluorescents a lot cheaper. But the order is probably still pretty much correct.

Some of our Planet Green posts following the RMI order:

Where To Start
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Stop the Air Leaks
Add Attic Insulation
Insulate Your Water Heater
Add Attic Insulation
Install Efficient Showerheads
Install Faucet Aerators

Notice that window replacement is nowhere on the list; it is so far down the list in terms of energy saved per dollar spent that it is almost off the bottom. If I were handing out the bucks, I would ensure that everyone followed the list; no windows unless you caulk first.

But then Pella is spending more on full page ads than Obama is on the stimulus these days, so that won’t happen. And of course, Glenn Beck ran Mr. “put down the handgun and pickup a caulking gun” out of the White House, so the bucks will go to big business.