At a meeting in Pittsburgh recently, we talked a lot of green collar jobs. This has been a subject of discussion from Business Week to the New York Times to politicians of all stripes over the past several months.
And it makes great sense for this country and for individuals. Rather than send our money directly overseas to oil and gas producers—and then watch the product burn and fly out our chimneys, we can improve our homes, create jobs, help the economy, and help our own pocket books. While the arena of green collar jobs is broader than just homes—and includes windmills, large-scale solar and geothermal, and even transportation—let me use home improvement as an example.
The individual economics are clear. If someone is spending $2,000 per year to heat their home with gas or oil (maybe more than that this year!), and we can save them $1,000 per year (or more if prices continue to rise—which they will in the long run) with a $5,000 project, then in 5 years, they’ll have recovered the cost of the project and be saving a lot of money every single year. Actually, with good financing, you can in many cases have payments less than the savings so you have extra cash throughout the loan period, too. Of course, you also get a more comfortable house and protection against rising energy prices.
How does this create green jobs? Well, someone has to install that insulation or furnace. And if they do it properly—the only way you’ll actually get the savings you deserve, it takes more time. Multiply this by tens of thousands of homes in your area or millions of homes nationally, and it’s clear we need a lot more people out there doing the work. It’s not just installations technicians—we’ll need to support them with office staff, they’ll need tools and equipment and materials, most of which means more manufacturing here in this country. These installation and related positions cannot be shipped overseas. The work needs to been done onsite in more than 100 million homes in this country.
And there’s a multiplier effect. Think what happens when someone has a local job. They buy groceries and clothes and visit the dentist and picnic at the lake and do a lot of other things that boost the local economy. $50,000 spent weatherizing a group of homes stays in the community are gets spent again and again. Compare that with $50,000 spent on oil which disappears instantly.
Green collar jobs is just another reason why energy-efficiency makes sense for you in your home—and for you in your community.