Go Green on Uncle Sam’s Tab

  • Uncle Sam’s Green Incentives

    The government has made broad strides in pushing environmental initiatives since the early 90s. Even the administration of George W. Bush, viewed with hostility by some environmentalists, provided massive incentives for clean energy production with the Energy Policy Act of 2005. For the most part, though, tax breaks and incentives for environmental practices were generally reserved for big business. While ordinary citizens could score some karma and lower their bills by being more energy efficient at home, for instance, they typically weren’t getting much love from Uncle Sam. Photo Credit: kevindooley
    Uncle Sam’s Green Incentives
  • Uncle Sam’s Green Incentives

    Focusing on green incentives merely for businesses started to change with the Obama administration, particularly with The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The $787 billion stimulus certainly spread the wealth around, and more than $80 billion went toward investments in clean energy. Some of that money was made available to ordinary Americans, with tax incentives and rebates for a number of green living practices. In the two years since the stimulus passed, some of those perks have expired. You can no longer get a break on your taxes for buying a hybrid vehicle, for instance, but there are still ways for consumers and small business owners to grab some government cash and help the environment while they’re at it. Here’s how you can get some of that “green” for yourself. Photo Credit: SEIU International
    Rebates on Energy-Efficient Appliances
  • Rebates on Energy-Efficient Appliances

    Much as the “Cash for Clunkers” program allowed consumers to junk their old gas-guzzlers in favor of fuel-efficient new cars, the stimulus put $300 million to rebates on Energy Star appliances for consumers who trade in their old appliances. The federal funds were distributed to all 50 states, each of which set up its own program for overseeing the disbursements. Consumers can typically get between $50 and $500 for their old appliances, and while many states have discontinued their programs as funds ran out, about half still have funds available. For instructions on getting the rebate, find your state’s program here. Photo Credit: MoneyBlogNewz
    Improving the Electric Grid
  • Improving the Electric Grid

    There’s no money up for grabs here, but if projections hold true, your electric bill could go down a bit. Obama dedicated $3.4 billion to modernizing the electric grid, which is supposed to make the nation’s electric system more reliable and efficient. The White House estimates that this will reduce electricity usage by 4% by 2030, for a savings of $20.4 billion a year. At the very least, we’ll probably see fewer blackouts. Photo Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts
    Tax Credit for Clean Home Energy
  • Tax Credit for Clean Home Energy

    Slapping some solar panels on your roof is a great way to save money on electric and heating bills while reducing your reliance on fossil fuels, but if that’s not motivation enough, the government sweetened the deal with a 30% tax credit. Put a geothermal heat pump, solar energy system or wind energy system in your home and you’ll be reimbursed to the tune of 30% of the system’s total cost, with no upper limit. (If you use fuel cells to power your home you get the same 30% credit, but with a limit of $500 per 0.5 kW of power capacity.) Photo Credit: richardmasoner
    Electric Car Tax Credit
  • Electric Car Tax Credit

    The bad news is that the federal tax credit for purchasing a hybrid vehicle expired on Dec. 31, 2010. That’s OK, though: Electric is the new hybrid, and electric vehicles purchased after Jan. 1, 2010 can net you a tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit for each qualifying car will begin to phase out once manufacturers have sold 200,000 of their vehicles, but we’re not there yet. You can also get up to $1,000 in tax credits if you install a charging station in your home. Photo Credit: The Car Spy
    Free Home Weatherization
  • Free Home Weatherization

    If you’ve got a drafty house, you’re losing hundreds of dollars a year in home heating costs. Fortunately, the stimulus addressed that, too: $5 billion was dedicated to helping low-income Americans weatherize their homes, with the money distributed to the states to administer. You’ll need to meet a list of eligibility requirements though, and there’s a lengthy application process which may explain why so few homeowners have actually taken advantage of the program. But if you can jump through the hoops you’ll see big savings: A government study found that weatherization will save the average family $437 a year in energy costs. Photo Credit: Energy.gov
    Energy Efficient Business Perks
  • Energy Efficient Business Perks

    If you’re a business owner, making your place of business more energy-efficient can save you a good chunk of change on operating costs. It turns out it can also save you money on your tax bill. If you’re the owner or designer of a new or existing building that meets certain energy efficiency standards, you can receive up to $1.80 per square foot in tax deductions. The tax deduction, which was instituted in 2005, has been extended through Dec. 31, 2013. Photo Credit: U.S. Army Environmental Command
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