WASHINGTON --Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled a new federal program to make it easier for Americans to make their homes more energy efficient, saying it will help people save money and create new jobs for contractors. The three-step program, called Recovery Through Retrofit, will offer new software for contractors to easily show people how much they can save, offer low-cost financing to help people pay for home improvements, and set new guidelines for contractors to assure the public the work is done right. Biden, who announced the plan at the White House, said that it will give families "the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades. Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle-class families save money and energy." The Obama administration didn't immediately release estimates of either the costs of the program or how many jobs it could create. The Home Energy Score Program will provide new software that will produce a score of 1 to 10 in a graphic that will compare the efficiency of someone's home compared to other homes in the same area and climate. It will offer an estimate of how much money could be saved with energy retrofits, a list of recommended improvements and an estimate of annual savings. White House aides said the availability of simple, trustworthy information should help more people invest in making their homes more energy efficient. "Most consumers do not have access to straightforward and reliable information about their home's energy use," said a White House information sheet. "Without this information, homeowners are less likely to invest in home energy upgrades." The software will be offered to trained and certified contractors to use during a one-hour walkthrough of people's homes. "The Home Energy Score will help make energy efficiency easy and accessible to America's families by providing them with straightforward and reliable information about their homes' energy performance and specific, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements that will save them money on their monthly energy bills," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. To help people pay for the work, the administration will unveil the PowerSaver loan program. Offered through the Federal Housing Administration under a two-year pilot program, it will offer low-rate loans that could be repaid over periods as long as 20 years. "PowerSaver will help more homeowners afford common sense, cost saving improvements to their homes, and will create jobs for contractors, installers and energy auditors across the country," said Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Finally, the program will produce voluntary guidelines to identify the skills and expertise needed for people working in the energy retrofit business. A White House report said: "Currently, there are not enough well-trained residential energy retrofit workers and not enough green entrepreneurs to expand the home energy efficiency industry." MORE FROM MCCLATCHY Florida Senate-elect Rubio moves away from tea party label Economy adds more jobs, but jobless rate still stuck Fed to buy billions in bonds in move to spark economy For more McClatchy politics coverage visit Planet Washington
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