Invest in Your Home and Get Incentives from the Government
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.
But did you know there are people who want to reward you further for your energy-conscious decisions? Purchasing certain energy-efficient products might qualify you for rebates, credits, deductions, and exemptions from key federal, state, and local government agencies.
You might be able to receive financial incentives on the following:
- 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 tax rebates and credits can be confusing, so we’ve collected several federal, state and local resources detailing possible financial incentives. What could be better than getting more money in your pocket for doing the right thing?
The U.S. Government Incentivizes Energy Efficiency
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.
Let’s start with ENERGY STAR®. This helpful 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 10-30% of your costs, as long as the product ratings or system specifications meet the tax credit guidelines.
Important note: Some of these credits were initially available only through 2010, while others don’t apply until 2016, so read the guidelines carefully.
- Federal energy tax credit guidelines
- Frequently Asked Questions about Federal Energy Tax Credits
- The IRS website or your tax preparer can provide more details about these programs
These rebates and incentives are wonderful, but they’re subject to change, depending 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 DSIRE page just for Texas!
If you need assistance weatherizing your home, we recommend the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) funded by the US Department of Energy. WAP promotes energy efficiency in the homes of low-income Texans. Local agencies determine if you’re eligible and administer the funds across all of the Lone Star State.
There’s Help in Texas, Too!
The Lone Star State offers several incentive programs, some of which are funded by federal tax dollars. The website of the State Energy Conservation Office features statewide programs and incentives, including the State of Texas ENERGY STAR Sales 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 was held on the 2015 Memorial Day weekend.
Investigate Programs in Your Own Backyard
Start by talking to your local utility company – the Transmission and Distribution Service Provider (TDSP). This is the company 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.
Keep these points in mind as you plan ahead to take advantage of incentives:
- 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.
Hopefully, this post can help you learn how to save even more money by taking advantage of tax rebates and credits through your city, state, and federal governments.