After reading a comparison of wind energy cost vs new lightbulbs it seems to me that a good use of stimulus dollars would be to just give out "green coupons" to each family to spend however they want on energy-saving goods. Coupons could be redeemed for energy efficient lightbulbs, home insulation, double pane windows, solar panels, hybrid cars, etc. Have the coupons redeemable at regular stores or through companies/individuals who perform these services.
People would be able to (a) satisfy their desire to spend money, (b) get something that would save them money over the long run and (c) also make them feel like they’re getting something for free (although taxpayers will eventually have to pay it back via higher taxes). Businesses that sell these products or provide these services would get an immediate economic lift. Manufacturers of the products and materials would get a lift. Doing this would reduce our energy usage and hence our dependence on foreign oil which should keep crude prices low.
People who don’t own their own home or who don’t want to make any green improvements, could sell their coupons (most likely at a discount to the face value) to people who would use them. The sellers would then have cash that they could use to buy something that’s not covered by the coupon or pay down debt.
This seems like a win win all the way around. This also fits with Obama’s desire to have the stimulus spent by the end of 2010. Giving $1000 of coupons to each individual in the US would be in the neighborhood of $300 billion so there’s still plenty of pork that Congress can dole out to union infrastructure jobs and other pet projects.