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Obama's 'Cash for Caulkers' boosts energy efficiency

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Joanne Ciccarello/Staff/The Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) During the renovation of Sheep Dog Hollow, carpenter Frank Zoldak frames the kitchen floorm which is insulated underneath with 1-1/2 inch foil-faced hardboard foam and a 3-1/2 inch thermal air barrier.

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I thought I’d written my quota on the seemingly unsung merits of home insulation and weatherization in my most recent blog post. But today, President Obama is in Savannah, Ga., talking Cash For Caulkers, so I decided I just had to revisit the topic.

In the past Obama has also tried to bring some star quality to the prosaic subject of home weatherization. Last December, he actually went so far as to call insulation “sexy":

"I know the idea may not be glamorous,'' the president said, alluding to a recent round-table talk. "Someone said insulation is not very sexy. ... I disagree. ... Here's what's sexy about it: saving money.”

But abstract ideas just aren’t as persuasive as firsthand, real-life experience. So I decided to chat with someone who has actually spent the money to properly weatherize his home and is now a walking, talking advertisement for it.

Meet Robert Matto of RPM Energy Solutions. At Sheep Dog Hollow, the home we’re trying to renovate in as green and economical manner, he is our designated HERS rater.

HERS stands for Home Energy Rating Systems, and HERS raters are certified energy-efficiency experts whose job it is to test the energy efficiency of a home, suggest improvements – such as more insulation and better sealed windows – and then give the house a score or rating.

If you want to take advantage of most federal and state tax credits, rebates ,and special mortgages aimed at increasing home efficiency, you need a HERS rater.

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