[Editor's Note: At the time of this writing, most to all of the rebates we mention here should be current. That being said, always check ahead via online or calling where you intend to make a purchase to verify the rebate or incentive is still active.]
Whether it’s changing out your old, energy hogging refrigerator for a new, super-efficient model, adding more insulation to the attic or installing a renewable wind, solar or geothermal system at home, Uncle Sam (and your state government) are here to help cut the costs of going green, through rebates and tax incentives aimed at easing our collective carbon footprint.
Most all U.S. states and territories have rebates for qualified homeowners who choose to replace old, inefficient appliances with new, Energy-Star qualified appliances. These rebates are being funded with $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A complete listing of Energy Star appliance rebates by state is available online, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Before assuming your Energy Star appliance purchase is eligible for rebate, it’s important to check the requirements specific to your state. For example, the state of Oregon’s energy-efficient appliance rebate is open only to low-income residents, while the state of New Mexico mandates that, in order to be eligible, the appliance must be purchased in-state. Still other programs have closed, due to a lack of continued funding.
Energy-Efficient Home Improvement
Tax credits are another way that the federal government helps out with energy-efficient home improvement. At this time, tax breaks are available for 30% of the cost–up to $1,500 total–for all improvements during the 2009 & 2010 time period, for the following: windows and doors (including sliding glass doors, garage doors, storm doors and storm windows), insulation, roofs (metal and asphalt), HVAC (central air conditioners, air-source heat pumps, furnaces and broilers), water heaters (gas, oil, and propane water heaters, electric water heaters) and biomass stoves (corn, pellet, etc.) Please note that these tax incentives are only for existing homes (not new construction) and for your primary residence (i.e., not for a second home or rental property).
In some cases (such as water heaters) your energy-efficient purchase may be eligible for both a state rebate and a federal tax break. Tax breaks are redeemed by filling out and including the appropriate IRS form when filing taxes and including the receipt of purchase. The tax breaks named above are set to expire with the 2010 calendar year.