When going green equals green dollars
Government bribes to be green: No jail time required
Thanks to a raft of government incentives, many homeowners have slashed their energy use for a green cause of a different kind — cash.
On April 7, it took only seven hours for an overwhelmed state agency to distribute Texas’ cut of $300 million in federal rebates worth $45 to $1,675 off the price of new Energy Star-certified appliances and home upgrades.
If you missed the boat on that one, fear not. There are still plenty of deals open to those ready to invest in energy efficient washing machines, refrigerators, hot water heaters, and air conditioners:
Federal tax credits: Unlike a deduction that just pares down your income subject to taxes, you can subtract a tax credit directly from the amount you owe, (making it akin to Uncle Sam adding a little extra to your tax refund at the end of the year). Part of the 2009 federal stimulus bill extends tax credits for a range of efficient appliances. Plus the credit covers 30 percent of the cost of certain water heaters, gas furnaces, central AC systems, windows, roofing and insulation.
State tax holiday: Don’t upgrade that creaky dishwasher just yet. On Memorial Day weekend, shoppers pay no state or local sales taxes on many Energy Star-certified appliances.
Building a new house? Ask your contractor if the project qualifies for CenterPoint Energy’s incentives for installing efficient appliances, windows and air conditioning. Rebates can total thousands of dollars.
Free weatherization: The City of Houston program has weatherized more than 7,000 low-income households since 2006, with homeowners seeing energy bills go down as much as 20 percent. Harris County offers a similar program administered by Sheltering Arms Senior Services.
More tips:Houstonpowertopeople.com offers more ways to save money, even if you don’t plan on buying new appliances any time soon.
North Carolina State University manages an impressive database of the state, local and federal incentives available for conservation, solar projects and other renewable energy. At the Energy Star website, you can enter your zip code for more energy saving advice specific to your area.