Since President Obama took office, several new incentives have been put in place for homeowners looking to increase energy efficiency and reduce the overall environmental footprints of their homes.
Homeowners can get up to $1,500 back from the federal government for any number of energy efficiency upgrades at home.
If you upgrade to energy efficient insulation, windows, doors, heating, air conditioning or water heaters between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, you are eligible for tax credits of up to 30 percent of product costs.
The credit is capped at $1,500 combined; meaning it only applies to $5,000 in total costs. More details are available at the website of the Tax Incentives Assistance Project, a coalition of public interest nonprofit groups, government agencies and other organizations focused on energy efficiency.
Of course, the Obama administration is also thinking long term, and would like to leave its mark in furthering efforts to wean ourselves off foreign oil and increase our production and use of homegrown clean renewable energy.
In light of such priorities, tax credits are also available for 30 percent of the cost – with no upper limit – on the installation of renewable energy equipment at home, such as geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar hot water heaters, small wind energy systems and fuel cells.
Homeowners won’t get the money back when they initially pay for equipment or upgrades, but they can add the credit amount to their overall tax refund, or deduct it from what they owe, when filing their federal income tax forms at the end of the year.
Unlike tax deductions, which merely lower the total amount of taxable income, tax credits reduce dollar-for-dollar the amount of tax owed.
Homeowners should know that they can also get federally backed mortgages to pay for a variety of energy efficiency measures, including renewable energy technologies, on their new or existing homes.
The federal government supports these loans by insuring them through the Federal Housing Authority or Veterans Affairs programs, allowing borrowers who might otherwise not qualify to pursue upgrades, and securing lending institutions against loan default.
Don’t own a home? Depending upon make and model, you can get between $250 and $3,400 back from the federal government for buying or leasing a new hybrid or high efficiency diesel car.
The automakers themselves – through their own “Automotive Stimulus Plan” – are giving consumers up to $4,500 back on the purchase of a new or used vehicle that gets gas mileage of at least two miles per gallon better than their old model.
Also, a number of energy-efficiency incentives are available at the state level across the country.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy website provides up-to-date listings of what may be available in your neck of the woods.
For more information, visit www.energytaxincentives.org; Automotive Stimulus Plan, www.automotivestimulus.org; or the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy by visiting www.dsireusa.org.
Appliance rebates offered by the city of Blaine
The city of Blaine in partnership with Energy Star & Bonneville Power Administration is offering appliance rebates for new Energy Star washing machines and dishwashers.
The city will offer a $25 or $70 rebate for Energy Star washing machines (depending on the type) and $25 for Energy Star dishwashers.
Applications can be submitted along with any required information to the Blaine public works department for processing.
The Washington State Department of Commerce is administering $5.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) rebate funds for the Washington State Cash for Appliances Program.
Rebates will be paid to Washington residential consumers who purchase eligible appliances and recycle their resource-wasting appliance.
More cost saving energy use tips
• Unplugging appliances when not in use could save more than $30 a year.
• Replacing an incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb could save $18 per year. A 75-watt incandescent bulb left on for 12 hours a day costs about $26 per year in energy. A 20-watt compact fluorescent light (CFL) will provide the same amount of light at one-fourth the energy, and costs under $7 per year – more than $18 per year for just one light. Also, CFLs last five to seven times longer than incandescent.
• For every three degrees the thermostat is reduced in winter, homeowners can save 3 percent on their heating bill.