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Cash Back For Going Green

Going green can be less expensive than you think when you take into account some of the cash incentives being offered for those who build and remodel with greener alternatives than the conventional choices. Right now, alternative energy sources and the equipment needed to use them are in the early adopter stages, when costs are higher for all concerned. That's because the early adopter costs include development and deployment costs. In order to encourage more people to jump on the bandwagon, utility companies and governments are offering rebates and incentives to those who are willing to be part of the brae new world of greener resources. These are just a few of the programs and incentives that might be out there for you.

Federal Tax Incentives
On the federal level there are a number of programs that offer incentives for going greener in your home. Many of these are aimed at corporate taxpayers rather than residential ones, but there are some that offer incentives available to home owners.

Tax exclusion
Any income from rebates for energy efficient conversions is excluded from taxable income. If, for instance, you receive a $300 rebate from your gas company because you installed a new tankless water heater, you do not need to count that $300 into your taxable income. (Exclusions reduce the income on which you are taxed.)
Tax Credit for Energy Improvements
You can get up to $500 tax credit for making energy efficient improvements to your home, including repairs and remodels. The credit amount is determined as 10% of the cost of building envelope improvements and/or 10% of the cost of more efficient equipment, including water heaters, furnaces, windows, doors, roofs, air conditioners, circulating fans, building insulation, heating pumps and circulating fans. (Credits are deducted from the amount of tax you owe.)
Tax Credit for Solar Energy Installations
You can get a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of solar energy installations, including solar water heat, photovoltaic systems and solar fuel cells, up to a total tax credit of $2,000 for electric and solar water heating, and up to $500 per .5 kW for fuel cells. The credit can be carried forth to succeeding years. This one expires at the end of 2008.
In addition, there are incentives for residential builders for meeting conservation goals that can return $1,000 to $2,000 in rebates for each residence built that meets specific guidelines.

State Tax Credit
Since 1997, Florida has exempted renewable energy systems from state sales and use tax. Renewable energy systems include any system that uses solar, wind or other renewable energy sources instead of more conventional power sources like electricity, gas or oil. The products or systems that you can get a tax rebate or credit for include alternative energy cars, solar space heaters, solar water heaters, solar pool heaters, photovoltaic systems, refueling systems, ethanol and biodiesel. If you refit your car to use an alternative to conventional gas or diesel, you can get a return of any tax that you paid on it. The same goes for replacing your conventional pool heater with a solar pool heater, or installing a tankless solar water heater.

State Rebate Program
In addition to the tax rebate, you may also be eligible for a Florida rebate program if you install a solar hot water heater, solar pool heater or photovoltaic electricity cells before June 20, 2010. The rebates include $500 for solar water heaters, $100 for solar pool heaters and a pro-rated amount for photovoltaic (PV) systems with a maximum amount of $20,000 for residential installations and $100,000 for non-residential installations. The amount is dependent on the wattage rating of the system.

You can get more information about Florida state rebate and incentive programs at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection web site.

Utilities Pitch In with Rebates
In nearly every area of the country, the major utilities offer some sort of rebate or other incentive to encourage their customers to move toward greener equipment. Here in the Tampa area both Tampa Electric and People's Gas offer rebates when you replace your existing equipment with more energy efficient equipment in your home.

Tampa Electric offers rebates when you replace your heat pump with one that works more efficiently. The rebates range from $100 to $250. In addition, because a great deal of energy is lost when air seeps out of leaky ducts or broken seals, Tampa Electric offers home ductwork inspections for $79. The flat rate includes any repairs and the installation of one flexible duct up to 25 feet in length. In addition, they'll pay you up to $100 when you install ceiling insulation. All of these are recommended measures for reaching maximum energy efficiency in your home. Finally, if you're building a new home, you may qualify for even more rebates and incentives.

Find out more about Tampa Electric rebates at their Energy Plus website page.

People's Gas also offers rebates and incentives to customers who upgrade their current equipment to more efficient versions. The rebates are available when you replace your current water heater, heating system, cooling system, cooking appliances, clothes dryer and space heaters with more energy efficient gas appliances. The rebate amount varies according to the appliance or system, and whether your convert from electricity or upgrade from an existing gas appliance. In addition, People's Gas also offers rebates to builders doing new construction, which can lower the cost of your home if you're building new.

Learn more about residential rebates at People's Gas website, on the Residential Conservation Page. Learn more about builder rebates at People's Gas website, Builder Conservation Page.

Most other utility companies throughout the country offer similar incentive programs. Check with your electric and gas providers to find out what rebates are available to help you with the expenses of going greener.

About the author 

Calum MacKenzie is REALTOR focusing on Tampa real estate, New Tampa real estate and Wesley Chapel real estate.