November 9, 2010 / 11:05 AM / in 7 years

U.S. to announce home energy efficiency initiatives

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden is to announce a series of initiatives on Tuesday aimed at helping middle-income Americans make their homes more energy efficient and boost job growth among home retrofitters.

The goal of the measures is two-fold -- help Americans keep down energy costs while at the same time laying the groundwork for a larger home energy efficiency industry.

“Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle-class families save money and energy,” Biden is to say at the event.

The funds might be used insulate attics or put double panes on windows to trap heat in the winter and cold air in the summer months.

President Barack Obama, under pressure to reduce the stubbornly high 9.6 percent jobless rate, hopes the energy efficiency business and green technologies will be a future source of strong job growth.

The initiatives include a new loan program from the Federal Housing Administration through which Americans can get federally insured loans from private lenders to pay for home energy improvements.

Homeowners under the initiative will be able to borrow money for as long as 20 years for the projects, the vice president’s office said. It will begin as a two-year pilot program.

Biden will also announce that the Energy Department will launch a pilot soon under which contractors can tell homeowners how efficient their homes are, on a scale of 1 to 10.

The idea is to help homeowners make decisions on what home improvements are needed and provide an estimate on how much money could be saved by making retrofits.

Biden will also announce an Energy Department proposal to create a uniform set of guidelines for workers in the retrofitting industry to follow.

Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Todd Eastham

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