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Could Every U.S. Home Be Retrofitted to Zero-Energy?

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Could Every U.S. Home Be Retrofitted to Zero-Energy?


November 20, 2020
House with solar panels
Photo: slavun

The average American home still runs on fossil fuels, but one report has found a feasible plan to transform each home into a zero-energy one. The catch? Upfront cash has to come from the government. The report comes from Rewiring America, an organization dedicated to creating climate change policies. Its founder, Alex Laskey, says the price tag should no longer be an issue, as many Americans could save nearly 50% on yearly energy costs, in addition to helping mitigate climate change. Overall, the cost savings for the entire country could add up to $321 billion.

To make the shift possible, the government needs to enable cheap financing, since the upfront cost of buying an electric car or putting solar panels on the roof is still often out of reach. To completely decarbonize a home—replacing cars with electric models, installing solar and electric heat pumps, and replacing other appliances—could cost $70,000.

But because the systems are cheaper to run over time, if consumers get low-cost financing, they will save money. They’ll save the maximum amount if the government enables a 2% interest rate, incentivizes industry to dramatically ramp up production of solar panels and the other needed technology, and if permitting is streamlined. That best-case scenario would also create millions of good-paying jobs throughout the country. In a decade, as the cost of technology continues to drop, financing assistance should no longer be necessary.

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