Tax credits boost renewable energy
The recent economic stimulus package allows homeowners a 30 percent tax credit — with no upper limit and good through 2016 — on several forms of renewable energy. Some highlights:
Energy from the earth
Rather than outside air, geothermal heat pumps use the ground to provide heating, air conditioning and sometimes hot water. John Kelly, executive director of the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium (geoexchange.org), says they're quieter than standard systems and can save up to half on your utility bills. Expect to pay $15,000 to $25,000 on average, which includes installation.
Blowin' in the wind
The American Wind Energy Association says residential wind usage grew by 78 percent nationwide in 2008 and predicts it will grow even faster in the next decade - thanks to the new federal tax break. Be aware of local zoning and permit regulations before committing to a home-sized turbine, which range from $6,000 to $22,000 including installation. For more information and a guide to permitting, visit awea.org/smallwind.
Reach for the sun
Monique Hanis, director of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association (seia.org), expects the most popular form of residential renewable power to grow even more with the tax credit. "This puts residential solar energy within reach of more Americans," says Hanis, adding that a medium-sized home system costs between $25,000 and $35,000. "Since they have until 2016, that gives them the chance to shop around and save up for it."