The U.S. House has passed the bipartisan Thermal Insulation Efficiency Improvement Act. This is one small step out of legislative gridlock and one giant step toward regrouping the national focus on energy efficiency. Now it will be up to the Senate to put aside partisan politics and get on board with this important legislation.
The bill requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to submit a report to Congress on the impact of thermal insulation on energy and water use systems in federal buildings, and the return on investment of installing such insulation. It is fairly limited in scope on the surface. However, it is big news these days whenever there is successful bipartisan legislation. Particularly when it is geared toward improving energy efficiency.
Requiring the DOE to evaluate the impact of thermal insulation in federal buildings should clearly demonstrate the energy-saving value of insulation. Further, analyzing the return on investment for installing insulation should lead the DOE to the same conclusion others have already come to: insulation offers one of the fastest returns on investment for energy efficiency improvements. These reports will help to focus congressional attention on the need for supporting energy efficiency initiatives.
Remember Cash For Caulkers and the famous presidential line “Insulation is sexy stuff.” The fact is, congress and the nation were on the right path then looking toward energy efficiency when trying to find ways out of the great recession. Incentives for businesses and homeowners to invest in energy-efficient improvements like thermal insulation makes sense. Improvements like these create jobs, save money on utility bills which gets pumped back into the economy, helps reduce dependence on foreign oil and lowers impacts on climate change.
Everyone should encourage their Senator to take up this bill and make the act law. A bill requiring the DOE to report on the impact of thermal insulation in federal buildings could be the first step toward a return to energy efficiency. This should be safe political common ground and lead to legislation that rewards homeowners for making energy efficiency improvements. Getting the nation focused once again on the value of upgrading the millions of under insulated old homes would have many benefits.