While there continues to be debate about just how much tax incentives have influenced consumer decisions to go green, the fact that they have contributed to the country’s gradual trend towards renewable energy and energy conservation is indisputable. Yet in today’s political climate, even the most positive proof of the benefits of solar rebate programs may not be enough to guarantee their continuance.
In 2009 and 2010, the federal government offered up to a $1,500 tax credit for energy-efficient window installation. Industry analysts reported a 10-15% jump in sales for those two years. Window contractors were able to both save jobs and add them, keeping paychecks in the pockets of hard-working Americans.
In 2011, Congress cut the credit for energy-efficient window installation to just $200, covering only the cost of materials. According to the Windows and Doors Manufacturers Association, sales of windows for the first half of the year have since declined by 16 percent. The $200 credit is set to expire at the end of this year.
Replacing old windows with energy-efficient windows can reduce a homeowner’s cooling and heating costs by up to 30%. For homeowners struggling to make it through this tough economy, cutting energy bills by nearly one-third provides significant savings. Replacing windows also raises the resale value of your home, an important consideration for those trying to sell in today’s downturned housing market.
Solar Rebates are Still Available — for Now
If you have investigated adding a residential solar photovoltaic (PV) system to your home, you most likely already know about the generous federal tax credit incentive program available to homeowners who go solar. The program covers up to 30% of the upfront costs for installing solar panels, and is set to expire at the end of 2016.
(For pricing on a home solar system in your area, click here).
Yet Congress has the power to change that deadline. Should those who oppose renewable energy take control of the House and Senate in the coming elections, chances are likely that the incentive program will end. Indeed, several conservative presidential candidates have already gone on record saying that they will seek to eliminate tax credits for renewable energy.
Since the federal tax credit first became available in 2006, solar energy system installations have increased 800%. While some of the industry’s growth can be credited to declining solar costs – module prices have fallen 12 percent over the last year – it’s clear that incentive programs have played a major role in the success of solar.
Other incentive programs are available for home solar systems, some quite generous, from rebates offered by states, to those from public utilities. But many of these have seen reductions over the last year. Some have even been eliminated.
The innovations in solar technology that have helped reduce component and installation costs have been fueled by industry growth. Should that growth slow, so will the pace of money-saving, innovative improvements. Now may very well be the most affordable time to go green and go solar.
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