A few weeks ago a House committee leader in Washington floated a draft on taking away mortgage interest deduction on houses over 3,000 sq.ft. in order to make housing more energy-efficient. His proposal at that time met with a mixed reaction from just about all sides.
If you recall, it was only the first draft. Since then arguments have gone back and forth on the issue and new ideas have gained traction to a point that the flavor of the original proposal has changed somewhat. And it has become a little more detailed. For instance, a house from 3,000 to 3,199 sq. ft. would qualify for 85% of the interest write-off that now stands at 100%. And as the home size grows, the smaller the percentage. At the other end, any house over 4,200 sq.ft. wouldn't be eligible for any deduction at all.
The latest plan also includes some partial exemptions from this graduated scale, among them "historical homes" constructed before 1900, certified energy-efficient dwellings, farmhouses and homes whose owners buy carbon offsets in order to qualify as carbon neutral. The draft's aim is to cut our carbon emissions 60% by 2050.
Environmental and scientific institutes were initially skeptical about the draft's purpose and goals, but they have slowly come to put their arms around it. They now see it as a ground-breaking effort to decrease greenhouse-gas emissions and also direct needed attention to the current use of energy in the huge housing sector. It's the first major initiative to do something about this festering problem.
The National Association of Realtors, or NAR, and the National Association of Home Builders, or NAHB, have voiced their concerns about the proposal because it uses the square footage of homes as a measuring tool instead of their energy efficiency.
The all important thing is that the issue is being debated now and with that public awareness grows and eventually something will be done about it. What we need is action.
Photo by Shailendra Pandey