Can home insulation become a celebrity like Lady Gaga?
Lady Gaga and home insulation - one's a celebrity and the other deserves to be, a home renovator says.
With the snow falling and the electrician busily finishing up the rewiring at Sheep Dog Hollow, there’s a bit of a lull in the greening part of the renovation. So I thought I’d take advantage of it to exploit Lady Gaga’s fame to bring more attention to the issue of insulation. (Yes, I apparently have no shame.)Skip to next paragraph
Alexandra writes about the "green" and budget-friendly renovation of a 100-year-old farmhouse in south-central Connecticut.
Green renovation: Lessons learned
Sheep Dog Hollow's green renovation is almost finished
How to determine if wind power is for you
Wind power in New England: Is it a good renovation option?
The spacemen cometh: How spray-in insulation creates a leak-free building
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
When most people think “green,” they think of cool, celebritylike stuff like solar and wind power. But the reality is that the most accessible and least expensive way for most Americans to green up is to better insulate their homes.
I know, fiberglass batting just doesn’t rank along with post modern pop icons like photovoltaic cells and Lady Gaga in the cultural scheme of things. But insulation can save average homeowners hundreds of dollars a year, to say nothing of putting a healthy dent in the nation’s carbon footprint.
Yes, I’d even say it was more worthy of the attention of the paparazzi than Ms. Gaga – at least, if you’re talking fundamental things, like paying your winter heating bills.
But, just like Lady Gaga, solar and geothermal and wind power have been the big the big stars in the green world, and that’s been reflected in Washington policy: There are celebrity-size tax credits and other incentives to encourage people who can afford the upfront costs of solar and geothermal to install them, but the bonuses for increasing the insulation in one’s current home – something within the reach of most working Americans – are paltry by comparison.
Yet, if you put down the cash to install any of those fancy green options – and walk away with $20,000 or in rebates and tax credits – without a properly insulated house, it’s like “putting a Prius engine in a car with four flat tires,” to quote greenbuildingadvisor.com’s Michael Chandler.
Yes, our green incentives are currently skewed to the rich and to photo-op ready options such as solar. But they could soon be brought into balance.
At the end of my previous post, I mentioned the “Cash For Caulkers” program, which is formally known as the HomeStar program. It would essentially create a set of incentives to encourage average homeowners to hire local contractors to insulate their homes – a.k.a. "retrofit" houses. It would provide rebates of up to 50 percent to weatherize existing homes.
Advocates think of it as a twofer: a democratic (small “d” as in for everyone), cost-effective, go-green initiative, and a job creator all in one.