Home Improvements
Real Estate

States offer incentives for green improvements

(3/2/2011) - Federal tax credits for many energy saving home improvements ended last year, but most states still have incentives to help foot the bill to get your house in energy-efficient order.

(Visit Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) to see what your state offers.)

For example, California's Energy Upgrade California program offers thousands of dollars in rebates, tax and financial incentives when combined with county level incentives.

The program emphasizes a holistic, whole house approach, rather than installing individual improvements, as the most efficient and effective way to save money on energy bills and qualify for the maximum rebate available.

Savings come from more efficiency. More efficient systems don't work as hard to heat and cool your home, so you don't have to run them as frequently. That pushes your power bill down.

There's also the benefit of an increased comfort level. Good upgrades take cold and out spots in your home out of the equation giving you home a more uniform level of comfort throughout.

A more efficient home is also healthier for you and the environment. Better systems improve air quality in your home and, by generating fewer greenhouse gases, upgrades help improve the air quality of Planet Earth.

Qualifying home improvements include insulation, sealing; heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, energy-efficient windows, tankless water heaters and other fixed improvements.

"One-time home improvements like these are a great way for homeowners to save money now with the prospect of rebates, and make a smart, long-term financial investment," said Howard Choy, General Manager of the Los Angles County Office of Sustainability.

"In addition to the energy cost savings benefits, these upgrades make homes more comfortable to live in, improve indoor air quality, and can increase property values," Choy added. And right now, before the spring rush, your timing for green upgrades couldn't be better.

Planning now to get in a contractor's pipeline of work orders for the spring can give you a negotiating edge for improvements and that means even more savings.

Not only is the tighter home program good for energy savings, greater home values, and a cleaner environment, it is also another way housing creates jobs.

To be eligible for the rebates and incentives, the work must be performed by a participating Energy Upgrade California contractor. On the county level, Energy Upgrade California has been working to recruit qualified contractors, educate them about the program and provide workshops and trainings.

All contractors participating in the program undergo a training program before performing Energy Upgrade California upgrades, and are part of an ongoing quality control and quality assurance program. Homeowners are directed to the list of participating contractors specially trained in energy efficient upgrades, and participating contractors will benefit from a pipeline of referrals and interested customers.

"The incentives offered by the program will drive demand for home energy efficiency upgrades, offering local contractors the opportunity to increase their customer base and bring additional money-saving energy upgrade services to current clients," said Choy.

"This program is an example of how job creation and environmental protection can work hand-in-hand, and provide significant financial benefits to homeowners," he added.



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