Saving the Green While Going Green

How energy efficiency can help your bottom line

You’ve probably heard proponents pushing the case for everything green – from organic cosmetics to energy-efficient home construction to new jobs. Even the Obama administration has jumped head-first into supporting green initiatives that it says will save the country billions of dollars, create less dependence on foreign oil, and generate opportunities in various industries.

But how does this affect your bottom line?

There are several incentives, from tax breaks to rebates, that make going green an attractive option for both entrepreneurs and consumers.

Savings for Consumers

Tax Incentives: Because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the federal income tax credits for specific home improvements are available through 2010. Homeowners can lower home energy bills, lower federal income taxes, and increase home comfort by making energy efficiency home improvements that qualify for up to $1,500 in federal income tax credits.

“The ARRA tax credits are potentially worth three times as much as the 2006-07 tax credits, at up to $1,500,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. “This more generous dollar amount puts energy- and money-saving home improvements within reach for more American homeowners. And the longer time frame, through 2010, gives homeowners more than a year to plan and budget.”

Applicable home improvements include installing window sealing and energy-efficient air conditioners and heat pumps.

The Tax Incentive Assistance Project (TIAP), which is sponsored by a group of nonprofits, government agencies, and other organizations in the energy efficiency field, provides specifics on products and equipment that qualify for the 2009-2010 federal tax credits via its Website.

Your purchases can also save you money. For the first time in the 2009 model year, certain light-duty diesel vehicles qualify for tax credits as lean-burn vehicles, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen models, up to $1,800. And purchasers of hybrids, such as the 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid, can quality for credits, up to $3,000 for qualifying models. For a listing of other qualifying models, visit IRS.gov.

Product and Appliance Rebates: On July 16, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the availability of nearly $300 million in funding from the recovery act for state-run rebate programs for purchases of new home appliances qualified by Energy Star, a government-backed program that sets the international standard for energy-efficient consumer products.

The new funding will be awarded to states and territories through their energy offices.  Each state or territory is required to submit a plan that specifies the Energy Star appliance categories to be included, the rebate level for each product type, the processing of rebates, and their plan for recycling old appliances. The deadline for state applications is October 2009.

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