Financial Incentives for Energy Efficiency

Many financial incentives are available for improving the energy efficiency of your home, but it may take some searching around to find the ones that apply to you. As a follow-up to our August 9 post “Federal Consumer Energy Efficiency Tax Payback” here are a few links to sources of information about rebates and grants for energy efficiency product purchases and installations.
The Department of Energy’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) presents a simple search system to choose from over 2,200 programs. You choose your state from a map, and a list of financial incentives by municipality, power utility or county is presented. When you select a program from the list you get a summary page of the incentive package – the eligible technologies and the financial structure of the incentive. A summary of the package and contact information appears below the list of incentives for that plan. The DSIRE database also offers a customizable service for organizations, with updates and a policy tracking service.
The DSIRE program also offers a search widget in which you select incentives for renewable or energy efficiency or both, select a state, identify yourself as a homeowner, commercial property owner, government or non-profit, click “view incentives” and the list of state incentives is opened. The widget can be placed on a website – there is a “get widget” button at the bottom of the tool.
Favorable mortgages and refinancing packages are now being created for first-time home buyers and home improvers, taking into account a home’s overall energy efficiency. Making a home more energy efficient makes it less expensive to operate, increasing its value. The energy efficiency mortgage is a good deal for the homeowner and the lenders, as power costs are saved while home value increases. An information sheet from the Department of Energy describes energy-efficient housing finance programs.
 The US Department of Housing and Urban Development describes its Energy Efficient Mortgage Program (EEM) as a program encouraging lenders to make credit available to borrowers who would not otherwise qualify. The EEMs “provide mortgage insurance for a person to purchase or refinance a principal residence and incorporate the cost of energy efficient improvements into the mortgage. The borrower does not have to qualify for the additional money and does not make a down payment on it.” To qualify for the EEM the energy efficiency improvement’s cost must be less than the “total present value of the energy saved over the useful life of the energy improvement.”
The Federal Trade Commission offers a guide to interpreting the EnergyGuide label – that large yellow sticker found on new household appliances. The label enables comparison of energy efficiency between makes and models, helping you to save money on your purchase. A diagram interpreting the label is presented, followed by a question and answer section. As of May 10 of this year the FTC Appliance Label is required on new televisions. As newer HDTVs draw far more energy than older models the FTC saw the need for a new label required to list the annual energy cost of the TV and an annual energy cost comparison for other TVs with similar screen sizes.
You can afford to save energy and many opportunities are out there to make the effort more cost-effective for you. Let us know how you are achieving greater energy efficiency and how you are using these and incentives and information sources.

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I am a Seattle-based writer. Energy efficiency and the achievement of human potential are my goals. I have worked as a legislative aide and a database manager, and recently started building a money- and energy-saving household goods online store featuring sensible and affordable home environment solutions including ENERGY STAR qualified products. Contact: Twitter: @Greenbespoke @SaveWattsatHome