- Green Minute
- Green Campuses
- Green Media
- Contact Us
How long have you bemoaned the draft in the office that sends a cold winter chill down your spine every November? Do you hate how long it takes for your water to heat up? Doesn’t it seem like you are paying an ever-increasing fortune for your energy bill? Do you just want a new dishwasher?
These issues, and many others, can be alleviated economically by understanding what incentives are available to you. The results can be pleasing for both your wallet and the environment.
What you need to know
Recently, the New York Times ran an article discussing the massive business returns potentially reaped from renewable energy projects. The main premise was that huge ‘start up’ incentives in the present coupled with guaranteed returns in the future create a no-lose situation for any investor. Examples of macroscopic solar and wind farms were shown throughout the article. These projects accrued close to a half a billion dollars in profit.
However, what few (non-utility) businesses and homeowners realize is that the very same incentive money that makes these large-scale projects possible is also available for them.
Keep water warm in the cold winter
Water takes an enormous amount of energy to heat. However, almost every state in America offers incentives to help you purchase solar water heaters. These incentives can range anywhere up to 80% of the cost of the solar water heater. Imagine installing a $1000 dollar system for just $200, and never having to pay for hot water again!
Energy Star appliances
One of the best ways to save on your energy bill is to simply use less energy. No matter where you live, it is likely that your local utility offers rebates or at the very least financing assistance, for installing new energy star appliances. All you have to do is look a little, and you might just find a new washer and drier for a quarter of the retail price.
The rebates for installing geothermal heating systems are massive. As well as initial rebates and incentives, most geothermal heating systems qualify for additional tax credits, deductions, or exemptions that can lower their initial cost even further. Of course your heating bill also decreases.
What a bright idea!
Don’t forget, many lighting upgrades, especially for businesses, qualify for rebates. Retrofit those old bulbs for new LED or CFL lights and you can literally see the savings daily.
Seal that envelope… Insulation is key
Isn’t it frustrating that your home could leak up to half of your heating bill due to faulty insulation? Luckily, most states and local utilities provide rebates and financing options to seal up your attics, replace your windows, and even plant shade trees to help with that summer heat.
Furthermore, most areas have large and comprehensive funding available for low-income residents. This means that if you are struggling to pay your heating bill, you can save in the long term by weatherizing your house for free (or at very low rates.)
For the more ambitious homeowners or businesses, there are many incentives available to install and operate renewable energy generation projects. From wind farms to solar cells, there are countless ways to save money. Along with the typical tax exemptions, tax credits, and start up rebates, many renewable energy sources qualify to ‘feed-back’ rates. This means that any electricity you generate can be fed back into the electric grid and earn you a certain amount of money per kWh. As a result, along with cutting your electricity bill, you also build an inexhaustible source of income by building a renewable energy project.
Stay on top of it
Incentives can vary in size, scope, and subject. In order to save money and best use the incentives available to you, it is crucial to stay on top of what incentives you qualify for. There are a couple great ways to do this.
Arguably the easiest and most intuitive way is to use an incentive or energy rebate database. One of the best ones is EnergyGridIQ (EIQ), which can be accessed through a free iPhone/iPad App called WattRebate and also through the website: www.energygridiq.com. From this database, you can get a comprehensive list of what funding is available in your area. Furthermore, EIQ gives you the ability to post your project and let contractors come to you. This, combined with an interface for utility providers, makes EIQ a very useful tool for all energy related decisions.
Check the site out for yourself at www.energygridIQ.com.
by Tamara Perreault and Keith Heyde
Tamara and Keith are of Bowdoin College and Columbia University respectively. The two started a biotech and environmental consulting start up Abstract Algae over the summer of 2011. For more information, please contact Keith or Tamara at email@example.com.