Posts Tagged rebate

Energy Grants, Tax Savings, and Incentives in Connecticut

Posted by on Saturday, 22 May, 2010

Connecticut residents have the opportunity to receive lots of money for setting up renewable energy systems and making their homes and businesses more energy efficient. The state of Connecticut provides funds through several of its own programs, and power companies also provide support.

Connecticut Light and Power provides information about grants as well as energy conservation. Grant programs pay to conduct an energy audit of a residence, where the state sends a worker out to check for improvements which can make a big difference in an energy bill. State workers provide services including sealing gaps in walls and roofs to remove leaks that let in cold air, install systems such as water conserving shower heads and faucets, and replacing inefficient incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs which the state provides. There is an income restriction on this program, it requires an income of less than $30,485 for a single person and the restriction increases by about $10,000 for each additional resident in a household up to six people.

Connecticut offers a unique implementation of the federal energy efficient appliance rebate program. An online store provides Connecticut residents with an opportunity to purchase new appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and compact fluorescent lights, with the rebate included in the purchase price. This makes it much easier to receive the rebate for purchasing an item and makes it obvious which appliances are eligible for subsidies. The Energy Federation sells energy efficient light bulbs through this program at a discount, available to all customers of Connecticut Light and Power.

Tax benefits are available for Connecticut residents who purchase and install energy generating equipment such as solar panels and geothermal heat pumps. Buyers of these items do not pay state sales tax on the items, and do not pay the state use tax. The tax free status includes the expenses of hiring a contractor to install the equipment. This is a full tax exemption, and does not have a maximum income requirement or a limit to the amount of tax benefits the purchaser can claim.

State and Territory Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Programs

Posted by on Friday, 23 April, 2010

Each of the states and territories of the United States have established an energy efficient appliance rebate program. They each set their own rules for which products are eligible for rebates, the dates that the rebates are available, and have their own web sites and departments in charge of the programs.

States have specific eligibility requirements. Many states have more applicants for rebates than can be reimbursed with the money they have received from the federal recovery act, so they have established waiting lists. Knowing the specific time and date when a rebate program begins accepting applications is very important. For example, the Virginia program starts on April 28th. Virginia receives a greater amount of federal subsidies to run its program than other states and territories because of the size of its population. This is a first come first served program, rebates are provided to the earliest applicants. The online reservation system opens up at eleven in the morning. Access to a fast computer and fast network at that time will be helpful, since many other Virginia applicants are going for the rebate.

States do not all offer the same amount of money for each item, or even provide rebates on the same energy conserving appliances. The refrigerator rebate program in California offers more than three times as much than the refrigerator rebate in Virginia. On the other hand, the Virginia program offers rebates on water heaters and furnaces, which are not included in the California appliance rebate program. A state determines which appliances to include by estimating the amount of carbon emissions that appliance produces, a factor that varies according to the climate of the state. Check advertisements that mention an appliance rebate to determine in which state the offer is valid. Also check for quantity restrictions, the Virginia appliance rebate is limited to one item, which is not the case for other states.

The appliance rebate programs do not include past appliance purchases. Even if a customer bought the item a week before the program started, it is not eligible. Delaying an appliance purchase until the start of the rebate period is a wise decision. Additional rebates are available in some states. Tennessee mentions that energy providers in the state offer additional rebate funding. The utilities’ rebate programs are separate from the state programs, so requirements on which products are eligible for rebates can also be different. Other government agencies may support the state rebates, the Tennessee appliance rebate program is provided with the assistance of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

US Territories offer federally subsidized appliance rebates. Northern Mariana Islands offers rebates funded by the Recovery Act, and at three hundred dollars for a washing machine or a refrigerator and a hundred and fifty dollars for an air conditioner these rebates are larger than many rebates available in mainland states. Guam and American Samoa are also participating in the appliance rebate program.

Green Refrigerator Payback Period

Posted by on Saturday, 17 April, 2010

The State of California, along with the other US states, offers rebates on the purchase of energy efficient household appliances, including refrigerators. The payback period for these green refrigerators is the amount of time it takes before a homeowner covers the expenses of their new refrigerator and starts gaining money.

A green refrigerator is sold at a retail store, such as Best Buy or Sears. The customer receives a rebate that the merchant turns in to the state government agency in charge of the environmental rebate program, so there is a deduction included in the purchase price. The customer also pays money to transport the new refrigerator home and have it installed.

So you add up the initial costs:
Refrigerator $1000
State Rebate ($200)
Installation $50
So the total purchase and installation cost is $850.

Next, add the operations expenses and energy savings each year. An Energy Star qualified refrigerator reduces energy consumption by at least twenty percent. Because of the additional cost for powering other appliances in the house, the savings from purchasing an Energy Star refrigerator may be a lot higher. Using the Energy Star Calculator and California’s average power rate, the site shows a cost reduction from $183 a year to $58 a year for a typical California refrigerator, an average annual savings of $125. Refrigerators don’t last forever, so the payback period includes the refrigerator’s depreciation cost. This requires estimating the refrigerator’s normal lifetime. Since we are buying a new 2010 refrigerator for $1000 sticker price, it’s a quality product, so we’ll use 20 years as the lifetime. Dividing $850 by 20 we get a straight line depreciation of $42.50.

Operation costs and savings:
Energy Savings $125
Depreciation ($42.50)
So the total savings each year is $82.50.

Dividing the initial refrigerator cost, $850, by the savings in energy bills, $82.50, provides the payback period, 10.3 years. The homeowner breaks even after 10.3 years, but the refrigerator usually lasts for 20 years. Multiplying the savings of $82.50 by the remaining lifespan, 9.7 years, gives the homeowner a total power bill reduction of $800.25 when buying a refrigerator through the California program. This calculation assumes energy costs remain the same, so if they increase each year, the refrigerator buyer will save more over time.

California Energy Star Rebates for Washing Machines, Refrigerators, and Air Conditioners

Posted by on Thursday, 15 April, 2010

The Energy Star Rebate program, also part of the Recovery Act, provides rebates to buyers of household appliances. Appliances have to qualify as energy efficient, and there has been some debate over unacceptable appliances recently. Recent scandals involved rebate approval for green products that weren’t actually green, so the state governments paying out the rebates are now paying a lot closer attention to the Energy Star rebates.

California’s program for energy star rebates is called Cash for Appliances. The program begins accepting rebate applications on Earth Day and continues for a month afterward, from 4/22/2010 to 5/23/2010. Surprisingly enough, the California government allows rebate applications to be sent in as late as 6/25/2010 in case people need a month to send in the Energy Star rebate coupon. As with the Cash for Clunkers program, the California rebates only apply to the replacement of appliances. People must turn in their older, less energy efficient appliances to program participants and have them destroyed. Like the cars, destroying an appliance and purchasing a new one will cost a consumer more money than they receive through the rebate, although the consumer receives the money back over time with reduced energy bills, especially if energy prices increase in the future. The effects of Peak Oil and carbon taxes are likely to raise the cost of purchasing heating oil, propane, and other products necessary to fuel home appliances, so an opportunity to get federal subsidies is very helpful. For example, a consumer can receive a two hundred dollar rebate on a new refrigerator or a one hundred dollar rebate on a new washing machine, or a fifty dollar rebate for an air conditioner, as long as it is purchased and installed in California. The program isn’t going to pay for transporting the new washing machine home or hooking it up in a consumer’s house, or dragging away the old washing machine, although home improvement stores and other retailers who sell these products may offer deals there.

Home Star Benefits

Posted by on Friday, 9 April, 2010

The Home Star Energy Retrofits conservation bill includes specific benefits. Home Star provides federal backing to installation of equipment that reduces energy costs. The proposed program subsidizes householders, construction contractors, and construction retailers, at a cost to the federal government. Stores and installers submit rebate requests to the federal government, which pays the qualifying rebates.

Home Star includes $6 billion in total subsidies in 2010, according to Senator Mark Warner. The Virginia senator gives a speech introducing Home Star at the link. The Home Star plan provides jobs to workers in the United States, according to Representative Lois Capps. Construction contractors buy insulation and HVAC systems from stores such as Home Depot in Santa Barbara, and installers work in other cities in Capps’ district including subdivisions in Ventura. Representative Lois Capps’ coastal district was hit hard by the collapse of the housing market. The headquarters of Countrywide Bank were in a neighboring district, the bank is now part of Bank of America.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources provides a summary of the benefits in the Home Star proposal. The target for this plan is to retrofit three million homes, spending around $2000 a house. The subsidy level varies depending on which improvements the homeowner purchases. The grant is meant to save the homeowner much more in energy costs. According to Pew via Senator Mark Warner, the retrofits may reduce energy usage by as much as forty percent. The Home Star Retrofits may provide even greater savings, since many power companies charge higher rates as homeowners use increasing amounts of energy during the month. For example, Southern California Edison bills homeowners at tiered rates. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources estimates that participating households will save around $200-$500 a year in energy costs.

The Home Star program provides two options to home owners to receive the rebates. Silver Star provides funding for individual efficiency improvements and matches up to half of the cost, with a maximum value of rebates per household of $3000. Individual Silver Star Rebates vary between $1000-$1500, according to the Senate proposal. Gold Star is performance based, and the rebate is based on the percentage reduction in energy usage. Gold Star provides $3000 for the initial twenty percent reduction, and $1000 for additional five percent reductions, according to Senator Mark Warner. Since Gold Star requires performance measurement it also requires an energy audit for homeowners to qualify for a rebate, so the energy use before and after the construction can be compared.

Home Star Retrofit Rebate

Posted by on Tuesday, 6 April, 2010

The Home Star Retrofit Rebate Program is a new program that will provide homeowners with federal rebates if it passes. The act is currently under discussion by House Members including Representative Waxman, and is supported by President Obama. This program would provide federal funding to fix up houses so heating and cooling use less energy.

This program will provide rebates directly to customers when they install the retrofit equipment, according to the White House. The retailer, energy company, or energy contractor offers the rebate and then receives payment from the government. It’s an efficiency retrofit program, so this doesn’t involve adding new solar panels or wind plants to houses. The rebates are offered to people who install new attic and wall insulation, heating and air conditioning, as well as other items.

Significantly, the federal government also mentions that it will help the homeowners borrow money to install the retrofits. It’s unclear how much liability the federal government is assuming if the bill passes, considering the debacle of home improvements during the bubble such as granite counter tops. At least these types of loans reduce energy usage, which does add value to a home even in a down market as these are not cosmetic improvements. It appears these loans will be provided by state and county governments, with additional backing provided by the Treasury. That potentially makes the loans up to regional governments, which may or may not be enthusiastic about lending money for the retrofits. States such as California that are hit hard by the loss of construction jobs and have many citizens concerned about energy cost reduction are more likely to go along with this policy.

The government has set targets in previous legislation, such as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. Meeting these targets requires additional federal backing. Researchers at Duke University explain some additional ways the federal government can support energy conservation. The support for home energy audits mentioned in this article are included in the 2010 bill, as well as conducting an information campaign as this program is posted on the President’s blog. Other options mentioned by Duke staff include allowing the states and county governments funding the retrofit program to offer tax free bonds, as well as adding the retrofits to low income housing. The government also owns a lot of other housing, such as housing for soldiers on military bases, and adding new insulation, doors, and windows at the barracks would help morale as well as conserving fuel for military equipment and providing jobs to military contractors.