Cars. Home appliances. Now, weatherizing home improvements might be considered under a government-funded “cash for …” type of incentive program. Twin proposals, dubbed “cash for caulkers,” have been separately submitted to the White House by venture capitalist John Doerr and by former president Bill Clinton. 

The idea behind cash for caulkers isn’t too dissimilar from cash for clunkers which was generally viewed as the one true homerun of the stimulus bill (but not without controversy). Cash for caulkers will provide homeowners with funds to perform weatherization projects and, in turn, the economy and the environment will receive much-needed boosts; green jobs will be created, carbon emissions will be curbed, and homeowners will eventually save save money.

However, as New York Times writer David Leonhardt points out, committing to a home weatherization project is much more complex than trading in an old gas guzzling car for a more efficient one. Leonhardt raises several good points and references his own home weatherization project that he very well may not see any kind of financial return on.

Many details need to be ironed out before any sort of government-backed home weatherization incentive program becomes a reality but from the sounds of it, Doerr and Clinton mean business. Doerr’s vision of cash for caulkers would cost $23 billion over 2 years with most of the money being allocated as incentive payments, around $2,000 to $4,000, for weatherization projects with homeowners having to pay 50 percent of a project’s total cost. Money would also be reserved for contractors and retailers to promote the program.

The funding for Clinton’s plan would come from unspent clean energy money from the stimulus bill and would not only cover homes and apartments but commercial and industrial buildings as well. It also must be noted that there is an existing 32-year old Weatherization Assistance Program available to low-income families.

Read Leonhardt’s full article here. Although Leonhardt does have reservations about a cash for caulkers program, he does, in the end, support it given that its positive environmental and economic impact could potentially far outweigh the successes of cash for clunkers if executed correctly.

Would you be more likely to weatherize your home if the job was subject to government incentives? Or are you still daunted by such an investment whether government green is involved or not? Whatever your thoughts, keep an eye for my series of easy, affordable DIY home weatherization tips and tidbits that I'll be publishing over the next few weeks. My first one, on, funny enough, caulk, ran on Monday. 

Via [The New York Times]

Photo: Emmett McGregor

MNN homepage photo: EdgeofReason/iStockPhoto 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Cash for caulking?
Bill Clinton is behind a home weatherization variation of the cash for clunkers program that he hopes will give the sagging economy -- and the environment -- a