The legislation commonly known as Cash for Caulkers is a proposal set forth by the Obama Administration with two simple goals: reduce our impact on the environment and kick-start the economy by providing short-term incentives for energy efficiency improvements to residential buildings.

The $6 billion rebate program, also called the Home Star initiative, encourages consumers to make “investments in energy-efficient appliances, building mechanical systems and insulation and whole-home energy efficiency retrofits,” according to the Home Star Coalition website.

There are two types of incentives in the Cash for Caulkers program:

The Silver Star prescriptive path. Under this first tier of the program, consumers would be eligible for rebates between $1,000 and $1,500 for a variety of home upgrades. Those upgrades include adding insulation to an attic, wall or crawl space, sealing or replacing leaky ducts and replacing water heaters, furnaces, windows, roofing and doors. There would be a maximum rebate of 50 percent of the project costs or $3,000 per home, whichever is less.

The Gold Star performance path. Under the second level, Gold Star, consumers who get home energy audits (from a certified professional with accreditation from the Building Performance Institute, the Residential Energy Services Network or an approved equivalent) and then make changes designed to reduce energy costs by at least 20 percent would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate. Additional rebates would be awarded in the form of $1,000 for each additional five percent reduction in energy costs. The total rebate would not exceed 50 percent of the project’s costs.

On May 6, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Cash for Caulkers bill. It now goes to the U.S. Senate for review and possible approval.