Flipping off a light or raising your thermostat a degree or two during the summer are two easy ways to save money. Any time you make energy-smart choices around your home, you can feel good about saving money on your monthly electric bill. It's also cool to know that your decisions and actions are helping out the environment. But your bank account and even Uncle Sam may appreciate your extra effort, too. Many energy-saving purchases also qualify you for rebates, credits, deductions and exemptions.
You might be able to receive financial incentives on energy-saving purchases such as:
- Water heaters
- Insulation and radiant barriers
- Energy-efficient heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC)
- Energy-efficient appliances
- Energy-efficient doors, windows and skylights
- Energy-efficient roofs
- Programmable thermostats
- Solar panels
Finding information about rebates and energy tax credits can be confusing (to say the least), so we’ve done our best to pull together information on many federal, state and local sources for financial incentives. What could be better than getting more money in your pocket for doing the right thing?
Get Money Back from Uncle Sam
Receiving a federal energy tax credit can help take the sting out of filing your annual tax return. Thanks to recent changes in the tax code, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit if you purchased an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for your home.
The ENERGY STAR® site gives you the scoop on what products and systems are eligible, along with complete details on how to apply for and to receive your energy tax credit. For many products and systems, you can get a federal energy tax credit for up to 30% of your costs, as long as the product ratings or system specifications meet the tax credit guidelines. Important note: Some credits are available through 2010, while others don’t apply until 2016, so read the guidelines carefully.
The IRS website or your tax preparer can supply you with more details and guidance about this program.
Rebates, incentives and so on are great things to know about, but they're subject to change and often depend on available funding. Funded by the US Department of Energy, the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) is an extremely helpful resource for finding out about state, local, utility and federal incentives and programs you may be eligible for. There’s even a special Texas DSIRE page just for our state.
If you need assistance weatherizing your home, you may want to check out a program funded by the US Department of Energy - the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). WAP promotes energy efficiency in the homes of low-income Texans. Local agencies determine if you're eligible and administer the funds—all 254 Texas counties are covered.
Statewide Programs: Explore Texas Incentives
Is this a great state or what? Texas offers several incentive programs, some of which are funded by federal tax dollars. The State Energy Conservation Office has an excellent site featuring statewide programs and incentives. These two new programs can offer you substantial savings on certain energy-efficient appliances that carry the ENERGY STARlabel:
- State of Texas ENERGY STARSales Tax Holiday: When you buy a specified ENERGY STAR qualified appliance during a tax holiday, you'll pay no state or local sales tax. The first ENERGY STAR Sales Tax holiday is Memorial Day weekend: Saturday, May 29 through Monday, May 31, May 2010. Learn more
- State of Texas Trade UP Appliance Rebate Program: Held for the first time in April 2010, this popular incentive program features periodic rebate offers on ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. Learn more and sign up for future notifications
In Your Own Backyard: Investigate Local Programs
Start by talking to your "poles & wires" company—the Transmission and Distribution Service Provider (TDSP) that physically delivers electricity to your house and reads your meter. Your TDSP may offer local residential rebates and incentives on energy-saving purchases and home improvements. You can “double dip” by combining these with the Texas Trade Up Appliance Rebate for even more savings, depending on your area’s program.
If Texas-New Mexico Power (TNMP) is your poles and wires company, for example, you can benefit from several incentive programs that promote energy efficiency. Learn more about TNMP incentive programs.
Keep these points in mind as you plan ahead to take advantage of any incentive offer:
- Read the fine print! Make sure you understand the restrictions, time frame and requirements involved.
- Keep all of your receipts. Make copies of all documents involved in the purchase of your products as well as during the application process.
- If you're working with a local contractor and plan to apply for an incentive program, make sure your contractor understands the program you're applying for so he or she can meet the requirements and supply any needed documentation. For example, your HVAC installer should be familiar with energy-efficient air-conditioning guidelines and supply you with the forms you need to receive a tax credit, rebate or other incentive.