With every year that passes, we all witness more evidence of our collective adverse impact on the environment. Many people are passionate about making a difference, even if it’s merely by making individual lifestyle changes. But reducing your energy consumption can be difficult when some of the readily-available methods for doing so may require a higher upfront investment. Here’s how you could avail of different rebates and get in on the energy-savings game.
Use Energy Star-rated appliances
First introduced by the US EPA in 1992 as a voluntary program of compliance to help lower carbon emissions through energy-efficient appliances, Energy Star ratings were initially applied to computers and monitors. The system has expanded since then to cover household appliances, HVAC systems, water heaters, office and commercial equipment, and even certain building features. If you make a list of your appliances and home systems, chances are there’s an Energy Star-rated version on the market.
Depending on your location, you can avail of rebates for specific products from Energy Star partners and enjoy increased savings while already bringing down overall utility costs; this is one reason why energy-efficient window installation is so popular in Utah, for example. While there’s no need to replace an appliance that’s currently in good working order – remember, unnecessary purchases also increase your carbon footprint – when you do go shopping, look for the Energy Star rating, and check out local rebates you may qualify for.
Shift energy usage hours
First-time homeowners and people achieving financial independence will be paying closer attention to their utility bills, and many come to realize that some utility companies don’t charge equal rates for electricity depending on the hours of usage. Because collective energy demand in a given area varies during the day, there will be peak hours when generating sufficient electricity to power the grid requires activation of less cost-effective power plants. The higher production cost, in turn, places a greater strain on the environment, as these plants also generate more emissions.
Recent years have seen utility companies across the country begin to adopt some form of time-variant pricing to effectively penalize users for increasing grid demand during peak hours while providing incentives to shift usage to off-peak hours. Thus, you may be able to avail of rebates simply by making the corresponding adjustments to your energy usage patterns and help save the environment by letting the grid operate off of renewable sources.
Avail of solar energy incentives
Harnessing solar energy is one of the most potent methods available to homeowners for reducing energy costs. While the total number of sunny days you can expect in a given year will vary with location, it’s safe to say that most areas receive enough sunshine to benefit from significant energy savings. One challenge to the widespread adoption of solar panels has been the cost – if you struggle to front the expense, getting a return on investment will take a long time.
Rebates help to subsidize that cost. Under the current federal solar tax credit, homeowners can deduct up to 26% of the solar panel cost, and some states offer cash rebates or additional tax credits or tax exemptions on the value of a solar system. This way, you might find it easier to finance a solar panel installation and enjoy a long-term reduction in household energy costs.
If any of these rebate options apply in your circumstances, they present an excellent incentive for lowering your bills and carbon footprint.