Economy + Energy Efficiency = Enormous Experiment

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As the debate flares up among economists, US taxpayers are having their first crack at the Obama administration's Tax Credits and are being reacquainted with Rebates and Mortgage and Financing tools brought to life through 2009's American Recovery and Revinvestment Act. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/recovery/ These vast programs are aimed at creating a juggernaut of energy efficiency incentives by tying the goals of economic stimulus to a budding green economy. For a look at the big picture, check out the data on the Department of Energy's website: http://www.energy.gov/recovery/index.htm. Believers and naysayers chew on the effectiveness and inevitable politics of this national experiment with equal fervor.

As these incentive based programs continue to roll out (some are not set to expire until 2016), the public reactions range from ignorance to near stampedes of shoppers at retailers offering rebates on Energy Star appliances! Programs, qualifiying dates, and regulations vary so widely that Cash for Clunkers now refers to "clunker" appliances and Cash for Caulkers refers to incentives in weatherization and insulation efforts!

Illinois http://www.ildceo.net/dceo/Bureaus/Energy_Recycling/Energy+Star+Rebates/ is one of 3 dozen states offering rebates on Energy Star appliance purchases. Rebates for eligible heating, central air conditioning, and water heater products began on January 31, 2010, with most other common appliances becoming eligible April 16 - 25, 2010. A detailed description of the State's program can be found here: http://www.energysavers.gov/financial/rebates/pdfs/rebate_summary_IL.pdf

At the Federal level, The Department of Energy is overseeing a variety of tax credits, rebates and financing options including http://www.energysavers.gov/financial/70010.html, and http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has seen a boost in funding for a 1995 law mandating access to FHA Energy Efficient Mortgages. http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/energy-r.cfm

All of these options serve to make buying, saving, and paying taxes more rewarding if U.S. consumers (or their accountants) are up to the challenge!

Posted by Ann Aler