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Next Cash for Clunkers could build up construction industry

About seven months ago, Cash for Clunkers was the rage.

The government’s money-back incentives for people who traded in gas-guzzling vehicles on certain fuel-efficient models boosted sales and shined the auto industry a little light in the darkness.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced some details of a proposed government money-back program for consumers who make energy-saving improvements or buy energy-saving equipment for their homes.

Here’s how the program works: People who add insulation or energy-efficient water heaters, heating/air conditioning systems, windows, roofing or doors would be eligible for rebates of $1,000 to $1,500. (The maximum rebate per home would be $3,000.)

Those who get home energy audits and then make improvements aimed at cutting energy costs by at least 20 percent would be eligible for $3,000 rebates. Extra rebates would be available for consumers who make improvements that yield savings of more than 20 percent.

More details –- such as how long the program would run and what it would cost -– would be worked out with Congress.

Chances are, the energy-efficiency program alone won’t rescue the industry, but it ought to bring some sorely needed business to construction and home-improvement contractors.

The program just might shine the construction industry a little light in the darkness.

Tom Fetters is a copy editor at The Daily Reporter. He would like to see a government program that gives rebates for downtown parking in Milwaukee.

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