In our nation's buildings -- our homes and our offices consume almost 40 percent of the energy we use and contribute almost 40 percent of the carbon pollution that we produce... Homes built in the first half of the last century can use about 50 percent more energy than homes that are built today. And because most of our homes and offices aren't energy-efficient, much of that energy just goes to waste, while costing our families and businesses money they can't afford to throw away.
The simple act of retrofitting these buildings to make them more energy-efficient -- installing new windows and doors, insulation, roofing, sealing leaks, modernizing heating and cooling equipment -- is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest things we can do to put Americans back to work while saving families money and reducing harmful emissions.
As a result of a variety of investments made under the Recovery Act, including state and local energy grants, we're on pace to upgrade the homes of half a million Americans by this time next year -- half a million Americans: boosting the economy, saving money and energy, creating clean energy jobs that can't be outsourced. But this is an area that has huge potential to grow. That's why I'm calling on Congress to provide new temporary incentives for Americans to make energy-efficiency retrofit investments in their homes. And we want them to do it soon.
I know the idea may not be very glamorous -- although I get really excited about it. We were at the roundtable and somebody said installation is not sexy. I disagree. (Laughter.) Frank, don't you think installation is sexy stuff? (Applause.) Here's what's sexy about it: saving money. Think about it this way: If you haven't upgraded your home yet, it's not just heat or cool air that's escaping -- it's energy and money that you are wasting. If you saw $20 bills just sort of floating through the window up into the atmosphere, you'd try to figure out how you were going to keep that. But that's exactly what's happening because of the lack of efficiency in our buildings.President Obama makes a very simple and sound argument in his speech at Home Depot for the nation-wide retrofitting of buildings to make them more energy efficient -- and for Congress to put the resources in place to make this possible now.
And I agree. Saving money and creating jobs are perfect goals for America now. But, I wonder where Obama got all those brilliant ideas in his Home Depot speech? Hmmmm. Could it be from Van Jones, the former Green Czar he hired and then let skulk away in response to a totally absurd attack by right-wing television pundits? That same Van Jones, whose best-selling book 'The Green Collar Economy,' outlined exactly this type of plan for making America more energy efficient "while created jobs that cannot be outsourced," to quote Van's book almost exactly? It's wonderful that Obama's speech at Home Depot is full of green ideas. It's sad that in Obama's Home Depot speech, he takes the ideas of a man who he did not defend during a political storm and presents them as his own.
Oh well. If I were Van I would be stewing in my office chair right now. But perhaps Jones is just sincerely happy that many of the ideas he pioneered are going to be put into practice to save energy and create much-needed employment. President Obama may have had to sacrifice Van Jones in order to save his political clout -- but at least the president knows a good idea when he sees one. Let's hope that Congress does not engage in more useless partisan politics to block energy efficiency policies before "Obama's" proposals can be widely debated -- and hopefully passed.