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December 2009

How 'Cash for Caulkers' might work

How 'Cash for Caulkers' might work

If it's like New York's energy-efficiency plan, homeowners would hire a contractor to do a home audit and perform the work. Soon after, voila, a reimbursement check arrives.

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Obama's Cash for Caulkers proposal has almost every homeowner wondering how they'll be able to cash in.

The plan calls for greater incentives, perhaps amounting to thousands of dollars, for homeowners to get new energy-efficient appliances, windows and other such items.

But no one knows exactly how the federal program - part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy - might work. That's because it's still being written.

It may be modeled, at least in part, on New York State's home energy efficiency program, said Steve Nadel, director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who's advising on the federal proposal.

Getting a contractor, then a check

So how exactly does New York's program work?

Homeowners interested in participating find a contractor licensed to do an energy audit by New York State - available on the state's web page or by calling a toll-free number.

Then someone like David Scharf, a contractor based just north of New York City, shows up.

For about $500, Scharf will figure out how much energy the home wastes. He'll put a giant fan in the door that will suck in air from outside the home, highlighting leaks in windows, doors or walls. He'll test each appliance to see how much energy it draws. He'll check the thickness of your insulation and windows.

Then, all this is fed into a computer model that generates a checklist with everything that could be replaced, how much it will cost, and how much in energy savings can be expected out of it. The homeowner decides how much work to do, and negotiates a price.

When the work is done, the homeowner pays Scharf directly. Scharf then submits paperwork to the state agency that runs the program. The homeowner then gets a reimbursement check from the agency for 10% of the project cost, up to $3,000, usually within 30 days.

If Obama gets his way, homeowners could get much bigger rebates than that in the future. No one knows what the numbers will be yet, but Nadel said other legislation currently in Congress would give homeownersa 50% rebate, with a maximum reimbursement of $12,000.

For a contractor like Scharf, who was hard hit by the recession and collapse in home building, such legislationwould be a godsend.

His business, which brought in $1.5 million in sales in 2007, generated only about $400,000 this year. He's already had to lay off two people.

"The economy hit the skids in late 2007, and it's just been getting worse," he said.

But if the federal plan goes through, Scharf said that might translate into $500,000 worth of work for him, and he'll hire three or four more people for his crew.

"If you give money to New York State, we can market that," he said. "People will jump."

No one knows how many jobs the new federal program might create. But in general, infrastructure projects are estimated to create or save about 28,500 direct and indirect jobs for every $1 billion spent, said Brian Turmail, a spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. With talk of the federal program costing in the $10 billion range, that could mean over a quarter million jobs.

The federal program could even be run out of state offices, at least in New York and the 27 other states that have similar programs similar, said Nadel of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Typically, running a stimulus program through existing agencies that have protocols and distribution channels in place is seen as the fastest way to distribute the money - and create the desired jobs.

Officials at New York's program say they're up for the task.

"There's no need to reinvent the wheel," said Francis Murray, head of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the agency that runs the state's home conservation program. "I think we could get the money out very quickly."

What isn't expected to be part of the package is help for do-it-yourselfers. New York's plan requires homeowners to hire a contractor to qualify, according to Karen Villeneuve, director of NYSERDA's Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program.

Energy upgrades need to be done professionally, or there's a risk of sealing the home too tight, which can lead to rot or air contamination, Villeneuve said.

DIY-ers, though, may be able to take advantage of rebates being rolled out nationwide for certain energy-efficient appliances under the first stimulus package. They vary by state, type of appliance, and level of efficiency. In New York, consumers can get $50 to $105 off refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers, and washing machines and dryers.

Any federal program would likely only reimburse people for large items like centralized heating and cooling systems, refrigerators, or washing machines.

Avoiding fraud

Some are concerned that if homeowners have to pay all the costs up front, people that could benefit most from the program won't be able to take advantage of it. In New York, homeowners who don't want to wait to be paid back can get a low-interest loan from the state instead of a 10% rebate.

For the federal proposal, Nadel said they are working on creative financing: One idea is to partner with some of the big-box stores to cover some of the up-front costs.

A spokesperson for Lowe's (LOW, Fortune 500) said they had been in contact with federal officials and that they are open to creative financing measures, but would not disclose any details of the conversation. A spokesperson for Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500) said the company is supportive of the plan in general, but that it was too early to talk specifics.

With so much money potentially on the table with Cash for Caulkers rebates, fraud is another big concern.

"Any program that is going to run through a third party and is going to distribute billions of dollars, needs to have lots of checks and balances to make sure there's not abuse," David Kreutzer, an energy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told CNN earlier this week after Obama proposed the new federal program Tuesday.

New York State guards against abuse by requiring all participating contractors to be licensed through the Building Performance Institute, a third-party certification program.

Through random checks of contractors' books and independent audits of homes both before and after any work is done, BPI makes sure homeowners have actually installed the energy-efficient equipment they say they did, and, just as important, that contractors aren't selling consumers things they don't need.

About 15% of New York's projects get audited, said BPI chief executive Larry Zarker.

"BPI sets the bar very high," said Scharf, who was certified by BPI last year. "I'm pretty jaded when it comes to government money trickling down and actually helping people out. But I think this will work." To top of page

First Published: December 14, 2009: 4:49 AM ET

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Cash for Caulkers could seal $12,000 a home

Cash for Caulkers could seal $12,000 a home

Under President's proposal, homeowners would be reimbursed for energy-efficient appliances and insulation.

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Last Updated: December 9, 2009: 9:53 AM ET


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Obama proposed a new program Tuesday that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy.

The administration didn't provide immediate details, but said it would work with Congress on crafting legislation. Steve Nadel, director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who's advising on the bill, said a homeowner could receive up to $12,000 in rebates.

The proposal is part of the President's larger spending plan, which also includes money for small businesses, renewable energy manufacturing, and infrastructure.

We know energy efficiency "creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment," Obama said. "With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs."

The program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space.

The plan will likely create a new program where private contractors conduct home energy audits, buy the necessary gear and install it, according to a staffer on the Senate Energy Committee and Nadel at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

to view the whole article


Cash for Caulkers could seal $12,000 a home

Cash for Caulkers could seal $12,000 a home

Under President's proposal, homeowners would be reimbursed for energy-efficient appliances and insulation.

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Last Updated: December 9, 2009: 9:53 AM ET


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Obama proposed a new program Tuesday that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy.

The administration didn't provide immediate details, but said it would work with Congress on crafting legislation. Steve Nadel, director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who's advising on the bill, said a homeowner could receive up to $12,000 in rebates.

The proposal is part of the President's larger spending plan, which also includes money for small businesses, renewable energy manufacturing, and infrastructure.

We know energy efficiency "creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment," Obama said. "With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs."

The program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space.

The plan will likely create a new program where private contractors conduct home energy audits, buy the necessary gear and install it, according to a staffer on the Senate Energy Committee and Nadel at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

to view the whole article


ICE Your Phone...No not icicles...

Have You "ICEd" Your Phone?

This is not a way of blinging your phone,although mine is blinged to the hilt. It is an important addition to your contacts.

In fact, once you've ICEd your phone, tell everyone else you know who has one that it's time to ICE.

What is ICE? Glad you asked.

In Case of Emergency (ICE) is a place to store emergency contact information should you be in an accident and cannot speak for yourself.

Emergency medical personnel are trained to look for your wireless phone, and hope that you've ICEd it.

If you're using a smartphone, take it a step further by adding medical information such as allergies, blood type, medications, etc that could help paramedics save your life.

ICE YOUR PHONE TODAY!


New Monmouth County NJ program offers reduced costs for prescriptions...

New County program offers reduced costs
for prescriptions and other health care needs
Discounts available to everyone with no age or income restrictions

FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders has some good news for people grappling with the rising costs of health care.

Soon, residents of Monmouth County will be able to save thousands of dollars on their prescription medicines, dental care, eye exams and vision correction under a new Wellness Discount Program. The program has no age or income restrictions and signup is free.

“Besides being available to all county residents, this new program has no annual limits, no health restrictions or exclusions and no paperwork,” said Freeholder Amy A. Mallet, liaison to the county’s Office on Aging, Disabilities and Veterans Interment Affairs, which will administer the  program. “It is an opportunity for everyone to save money on the cost of their health care by providing discounts on prescription medicines, hearing and eye exams, eye glasses, dental care and more.”

The Wellness Discount Program works this way: present your card to the health care provider and get a discount.

For example, when you buy your medications and present the discount card you will receive anywhere from 10 percent to 50 percent off the price. For each prescription you buy this way, Monmouth County will receive 50 cents, which will go toward the cost of administering the program. The county only receives money on the prescription program.

“This is a winner on two levels,” Mallet said. Not only will residents get their medications at a cheaper rate, but the county will benefit, too.”

For vision, eye and dental care, there are providers to choose from who offer discounts with no remuneration to the county.

Thomas Pivinski, director of the Office on Aging, said, “The Wellness Discount Program reduces medical costs for everyone. It is not an insurance program, but it provides for substantial discounts for services that may not be covered under a person’s regular insurance or Medicare. With regard to prescriptions, it will help those with high drug costs when they meet the ‘doughnut’ level.”

Discounts are available for:

  • prescription drugs;
  • hearing exams and aids;
  • vision exam, eyeglasses, contact lenses, and lasik eye surgery;
  • dental care;
  • diabetic supplies,
  • pet medications.

“All a person has to do is show the discount card to the health care provider for the discount,” Pivinski said. “The drug program, called the Freedom Program, saves from 10 percent to 50 percent. It also discounts prescriptions for pets. Most major pharmacy chains accept the card.”

Savings for other health care needs can be obtained this way:

  • Vision care is through the US Vision Plan, which provides discounts on both eye examinations and corrective materials. Major eye glass chains participate in the program.
  • Likewise, the US Hearing Plan offers a hearing evaluation and up to 50 percent off most major brands of hearing aids.
  • For dental, the Choice Plus Dental Plan provides a 30 percent discount on the annual cost of purchasing a dental discount insurance plan.
  • The Diabetic Savings Plan is a mail-order program that will reduce supply expenses.

A similar program was begun in Bergen County two years ago and it has helped several hundred thousand Bergen County residents obtain health care at discounted rates.

For more information on the Wellness Discount Program or to obtain a discount card, please call the Monmouth County Office on Aging at 732-431-7450.

Cards also will be available at public libraries, senior centers, food banks and food pantries, through elementary and middle schools, unemployment officers, Salvation Army thrift shops and the Monmouth County Health Department.


Monmouth County H1N1 Vaccines continues @ Wall High School Dec 19 2010

County’s H1N1 vaccine distribution continues
No appointment needed; healthy people 2 through 49 to get flu mist only

WALL, NJ – The Monmouth County Health Department (MCHD) will hold an H1N1 vaccine clinic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19, at Wall High School, 1630 18th Ave.  No appointments are necessary.
 
County residents encouraged to attend this vaccine clinic include: 
  • pregnant women
  • people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age
  • children 6 months through 24 years of age
  • persons 25 to 64 who have health conditions associated with higher risk of medical complications from influenza
  • health care and emergency medical services personnel
  • healthy individuals 2 through 49 years of age (flu mist only)
The vaccine at these clinics will be available free. Thimerisol-free vaccine is available. Healthy individuals 2 through 49 years of age will be given flu mist only.
 
Individuals who may not receive the H1N1 or any influenza vaccine are:
  • those with an allergy to eggs and egg proteins
  • anyone with a previous life threatening reaction to a flu vaccine
  • individuals with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome
Residents attending the clinic will be screened by a registered nurse regarding risk factors and educated about the vaccine. A parent or guardian must sign a vaccine consent form for children under the age of 18. Additionally, children less than 10 years of age will require two doses of the vaccine, which should be given approximately one month apart.
 
The county Health Department encourages residents to get an H1N1 vaccine as it becomes available. The county has conducted clinics to vaccinate individuals in the highest H1N1 risk groups as defined by the CDC or the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
 
“The MCHD continues to make the H1N1 vaccine available to people in the highest risk groups that are most susceptible to serious illness or death from the H1N1 influenza,” said Michael Meddis, county public health coordinator. “As additional vaccine is produced and the county receives it, additional clinics will be scheduled. 
 
“Regardless of the type of illness, the recommendations to reduce the spread of illness remain the same,” said Karen DeMarco, Monmouth County’s assistant public health coordinator. “Those who are ill should not attend school, work or go into the community for at least seven days, even if the flu symptoms resolve sooner. You should also avoid close contact with people who are sick.”
 
“To avoid getting sick, you need to wash your hands thoroughly to protect yourself from germs and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze,” said Meddis.   “If soap and water are not available and you are using a hand sanitizer, be sure it is at least 60 percent alcohol.”
 
Detailed information about the H1N1 flu is available from www.visitmonmouth.com that will provide you with links to the Health Department and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/) or you can call the county Health Department at 732-431-7456, or the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services at 866-321-9571

In Monmouth, Ocean, home prices continue to fall, but buyers remain

In Monmouth, Ocean, home prices continue to fall, but buyers remain

Asbury Park Press : December 5, 2009 - After Kathy and Steve Lew put their four-bedroom home in Berkeley on the market for $425,000 in July, more than two dozen people checked it out. But the house remains unsold. "The biggest obstacle is they (prospective buyers) have to sell their house," said Kathy, a library assistant at the Ocean County Library's Plumsted Branch.

via www.google.com