Dear Ms. Green,
Are there any tax incentives or rebates this year for increasing my home’s energy efficiency? What about financing? I really want 2012 to be the year I get an energy audit and follow up with weatherization, but I want to take advantage of whatever deals are out there.
Chilly in Chapel Hill
You are in luck, my friend, because while many incentives and rebates from years past have since ended, if you are a homeowner who resides in the town of Chapel Hill then you have access to the very best subsidy for both energy audits and weatherization available in the state of North Carolina: the Chapel Hill WISE Homes and Buildings Program.
The WISE Homes and Buildings Program basically provides a generous subsidy for an energy audit and subsequent weatherization to qualified homeowners. It also includes a rigorous quality assurance program so that not only do you get a good deal for making your home more energy efficient, you also know that it’s being done right.
Here’s how the WISE Program can works: after your initial application you will schedule a home energy assessment (a.k.a. energy audit) from a qualified, pre-approved energy auditor. The assessment will cost you about 1/3 the cost of a standard energy audit and energy model of the house, both included in the assessment. The auditor will then create a scope of work, and if this scope of work shows that you can achieve 15% savings in energy efficiency through the suggested home improvements, then these same improvements will qualify for a subsidy of either 20% or 40%.
To get involved In the WISE Program, please call Home Performance NC at (919) 360-1570. The program also has a link on the town of Chapel Hill website with more complete information as well as homeowner testimonials, which are definitely worth a look.
As far as federal programs go, there is a program headed down the pike connected to the bipartisan bill, the Cut Energy Bills at Home Act (25E), which would provide a 30% tax credit for energy efficiency measures that hit a certain level of increased energy efficiency, but like all things political, Ms. Green suggests you not hang your hat on it. Ms. Green loves the program, of course, as she appreciates anything that will boost home energy efficiency, but she also has seen programs like this introduced before and she knows that many just fizzle out and die a sad little death. Which hopefully will not be the case with this one, but Ms. Green is not holding her breath.
For more information on utility programs or other possible credits, please see the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Energy, dsireusa.org. Depending on where you live and what your utility provider is, you may qualify for something from your utilities, although these are typically rebates for high-efficiency HVAC appliances. Replacing your old heat pump with a new energy-efficient one is great, but it doesn’t have the same bang for the buck as whole-house energy improvements do.