Alliance to Save Energy, Homes Coalition Urge Congress to Pass Home Energy Tax Credit
As homebuyers across America stampede a clogged housing market and homeowners renovate existing homes, the Coalition for Energy-Efficient Homes urges Congress to pass a home energy tax credit bill that will help fight pollution and climate change while furthering the American Dream of homeownership.
Alliance to Save Energy President David M. Nemtzow testifies today on behalf of the diverse coalition of manufacturers, utilities, homebuilders, and energy-efficiency advocates before the House Committee on Ways and Means in support of the tax credit bill, H.R. 1358, introduced by Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA). President Clinton is expected to release the administration's home energy tax credit plan later this year as part of his Climate Change Technology Initiative.
"Homeownership for all who desire it has long been a public policy goal in the United States," declares Nemtzow. "We have the ability to act decisively today to make our homes more affordable, less polluting, and more comfortable, and help save American families millions of dollars on heating and cooling bills."
Despite popular opinion that houses today are usually built with energy efficiency in mind, less than 2 percent of new homes actually achieve a high level of energy efficiency. "Many people are shocked to learn that their home generates twice as much greenhouse gas emission as their car," notes Nemtzow. "Regardless of what one thinks of climate change, incentives for energy-efficient homes provide a no-regrets strategy for reducing emissions while creating huge ancillary benefits for Americans."
Thomas' bill provides a $2,000 tax credit to homebuilders for constructing energy-efficient homes that exceed the 1998 International Energy Conservation Code by 30 percent or more. Rep. Robert Matsui (D-CA) offered a similar bill last year as part of Clinton's climate change initiative but it contained a stringent qualifying level of 50 percent above code. Although he commends Clinton and Matsui for trying to encourage energy-efficient construction, Nemtzow says that the expected administration proposal, which will be substantially similar to Matsui's bill, will "severely limit" the number of builders interested in qualifying due to added cost, engineering considerations, and weak incentive-structure.
The tax credit in H.R. 1358 would also apply to the nation's 100 million existing homes, where homeowners would be eligible for a tax credit for 20 percent of the cost of improvement on any section of their home brought up to current code. "The lion's share of energy use and energy waste in the residential sector remains in existing homes," says Nemtzow. "Homeowners will realize the huge difference in comfort and dollar savings attainable by making relatively inexpensive improvements to discrete sections of their home."
The Thomas bill has bipartisan support from 24 members of the House, with co-sponsors on the Ways and Means committee including Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA), Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN), and Rep. Phil English (R-PA).
Members of The Coalition for Energy Efficient Homes include:
- Alliance to Save Energy
- American Rockwool, Inc.
- Andersen Corporation
- Apache Products Company
- Atlas Roofing Corporation Bayer Corporation
- Cardinal IG
- CertainTeed Corporation
- Dow Chemical
- Edison Electric Institute
- Evanite Fiber Corporation
- Exeltherm, Inc.
- Fibrex, Inc.
- Firestone Building Products Co.
- Homasote Company
- Honeywell, Inc.
- ICI Polyurethane
- Johns Manville
- Knauf Fiber Glass
- MFS, Inc.
- National American Indian Housing Council
- National Association of Home Builders
- North American Insulation Manufacturers Association
- Owens Corning
- Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association
- Portland Cement
- Alliance Rmax, Inc.
- Rock Wool Manufacturing Co.
- Roxul, Inc.
- Society of the Plastics Industry
- Sloss Industries Corporation
- USG Interiors, Inc.
- Western Fiberglass Group