Help Pay for Your Energy-Efficient Home With These State Incentives

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Whether you’re moving into a new house or upgrading an existing one, an energy-efficient home may not only be better for the environment and more comfortable to live in, but it can also save you money in the long run. Although the price of alternative energy systems, new heating and cooling equipment, weather-stripping, and insulation may seem steep, help is available in the form of money-saving incentives such as rebates, tax exemptions, grants, and loans. Here are just a few examples of the state programs currently available for homeowners interested in energy efficiency.

State Incentives for Solar Energy

Some of the biggest cash incentives, discounts, and rebates reward homeowners and builders willing to supplement or replace traditional energy sources with alternative energy such as solar. A number of state and local governments support the pursuit of energy-efficient homes through grants, loans, and even tax exemptions for installing solar systems.

For example, in Vermont, solar equipment rebates of up to $8,750 help promote alternative energy use. Lake County’s version of the Energy Smart Colorado Renewable Energy Rebate Program provides a rebate of 50 percent of project costs, up to $400, toward the installation of solar water heating equipment and solar photovoltaics. In New Jersey, a tax exemption for solar equipment purchases can save residential owners the 7 percent sales tax usually charged by the state.

Energy Efficiency Rebates for Appliances

One of the first places many homeowners start when thinking about creating an energy-efficient home is their appliances. State programs across the U.S. provide rebates on everything from energy-efficient heating and cooling systems to items as small as compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs.

One such incentive is Anaheim, California’s Residential Home Efficiency Rebate Program, which provides cash rebates to homeowners who purchase energy-efficient appliances or upgrade to an energy-efficient heating and cooling system. Appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, high-efficiency pool pumps, and air conditioners must comply with Energy Star requirements, and rebates range from $50 to $100, depending on the appliance. Applicants can also obtain up to six shade trees, five CFL bulbs, and dusk-to-dawn lighting for free.

Money-Saving State Incentives for Residential Heating and Cooling Systems

In Oregon, upgrading an existing heating and cooling system is easier thanks to an array of tax incentives and rebates. The Energy Trust of Oregon’s Home Energy Solutions for Existing Homes program promotes the use of geothermal heat pumps with rebates ranging from $250 to $700, while ductless heat pumps are eligible for an $800 rebate. Like many similar programs, you first have to arrange a home energy audit (also called a home energy assessment) to determine your home’s current energy efficiency. Once you’ve installed the eligible equipment, prepare for a possible follow-up inspection to confirm that you qualify for any incentives.

To begin the search for federal, state, or local incentives that encourage the building of a more energy-efficient home, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). Click your home state on the map to see a list of all incentives that apply to your location. Simply use the filter and sort options to pinpoint the incentives you’re most interested in. Energy efficiency is can not only be a relief to the environment, but also to your wallet. Explore your local options to make sure you get the most for your money.

Sarita Harbour is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and green living. As a former financial adviser with over a decade of banking experience, she has been writing for American and Canadian digital audiences for the past three years. Her work is featured regularly on Capital One's Spark Business IQ, Forbes, and The Lending Tree, and also appears on sites such as Fox News, Yahoo! Homes, Bob Vila, Equifax Insights for Small Business, and Intuit Small Business. Sarita graduated from the University of Guelph where she studied Psychology and Computer Science, and she holds the Personal Financial Planning designation from the Institute of Canadian Bankers. Sarita is also a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. She lives with her family in an off-the-grid cabin outside of Yellowknife, NWT.