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Finding Your Way through the Forest of Government Tax Breaks and Incentives

Although browsing some government websites can feel like you are trying to read a law book, the government is getting better at compiling and relaying information on energy savings to the public. But there is so much great information about government incentives to go green that it is worth weeding through the forest of legalize.

One of the better government green sites is from the Department of Energy (DOE) at www.energysavers.gov. When at the main page, simply click on the link for “Rebates, Tax Credits, and Financing” at the top of the page. This website can give you direct information about how the tax rebates and breaks came about and where to find out what you are eligible for.

Energy Appliance Rebates – Great for Restaurants

One possibly surprising fact is that the federal government provides the funding for Energy Star appliance rebates; however, it is each individual state that determines what items are eligible to receive that rebate. For instance, appliance rebates in Alaska are only available to disabled Alaskan residents.  Sadly, there are only 12 states still participating in the Energy Star rebate program, so be sure to check the site before anticipating getting money back for your company’s next big appliance purchase.

Tax Credits – For Commercial Buildings and Residences

When going to the “Tax Credits” page on the EnergySavers.gov website, you will find links that will take you directly to the proper IRS forms for the particular credit you are requesting. As with the ever changing political atmospheres, tax credits will come and go, reviewing this site prior to filing for tax credits can save you headaches later. There are currently seven items that are available for tax credits through 2011: biomass stoves, HVAC systems, insulation, roofing, non-solar water heaters, windows/doors/skylights, and electric vehicles. There are also several credits available for products through 2016: geothermal heat pumps, solar energy systems, wind energy systems, and fuel cells. Each of these credits comes with specific criteria for qualification that should be reviewed carefully.

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Energy-Efficient Financing – Great for Landlords and Homeowners

DOE will help locate financing options when you click on the link for “Energy-Efficient Financing.” There are several links to ways to finance an energy-efficient building and how to find out what category your building would qualify for. Having a high rating might help you qualify for a larger loan than you would without a rating. There will be information on how to qualify for a HUD Federal Housing Administration mortgage. These loans can help a family get a loan for an energy efficient home, when they might have trouble qualifying for a regular mortgage; this can be good to know if you are fixing up a home to sell. DOE provides more information on home improvements that can be done to a current home, and thus help a current home owner refinance their mortgage with the improved energy rating.

DSIRE – For Energy Rebates

DOE supports another website called the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) at www.dsireusa.org. This website is the be all and end all of all information related to rebates and credits for all the states. Simply click on your state and it will list every local, state, and company rebates or credits available where you live. There will also be a list of links for your state’s building codes, which will be important to review for any new installations of solar or wind energy.

Exercise Caution

As with any website that provides a summary of information on regulations, policies, and rebates, always confirm the rebate with the listed entity, because websites can easily become out of date. DSIRE is an excellent website to gather all your notes and then choose which project you would like to proceed with. For instance, a utility company might have an incentive for installing solar panels. DSIRE will give you the requirements for the incentive, what the maximum return can be, and the contact information for the person in charge of the program.

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Be careful to avoid any commercial sites for information on government tax breaks and rebates since there are several “fake” websites out there that will collect and sell your personal information. Always use a .gov or .us websites to confirm tax break and rebate information. When considering any changes or major purchases to your home, taking the time to do proper research will always make the project easier and guarantee your return.


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