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Eleven Ways to Approach Money for Green Energy Equipment for Your Home

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Eleven Ways to Approach Money for Green Energy Equipment at Your Home



Janis Petzel

Converting your home from oil or gas to cleaner energy is a worthwhile investment in your family’s future. But it can take a pile of greenbacks to go green. The following ideas on money management came from our family’s experiences remodeling old Maine houses and from information about the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

  1. Put a priority on clean energy in your budget and personal savings: Our family’s goal is to avoid buying fossil fuels. We want to reduce the risk of climate change for our children and grandchildren, and to protect ourselves from corporate greed. We make clean energy a priority in how we spend our money. It’s so satisfying to achieve steps along the way.

  2. Educating yourself is worth money. Read up on clean energy options so you are prepared if something breaks, a rebate is available, or you are ready to do a remodel.

  3. Do traditional and ordinary energy conservation measures, like window coverings, insulation, programmable thermostats. The electricity you don’t use is the cheapest and cleanest, plus, when you do get solar or heat pumps, you will pay for smaller equipment.

  4. Purposeful savings: Even if it is the five-cent deposits from cans and bottles, put something aside so when the time comes, and the furnace fails or you’re ready to go solar, you have some cash available.

  5. DIY, but avoid paying tuition at the College of Hard Knocks: Sweat equity is great but take the time to know what you’re doing. Doing things twice because you created a moisture problem in your house (or some other screw up) is not cost-effective.

  6. Windfalls: A larger-than-expected tax refund, an inheritance, the sale of a boat or car, or even a rebate from another energy product can be put to use for life-changing investments in green energy. This is how we got started with our solar panels. Then, the money we saved on electricity helped finance the next green energy thing we bought (a used Nissan Leaf), which charges from the solar, so we don’t buy gas. Windfalls beget other windfalls.

  7. Rebates or assistance from your state. Thanks to the IRA, the rebates on heat pumps have gone from a few hundred dollars to potentially thousands of dollars, and lower income people get more money (at least in Maine through Efficiency Maine). The program is more complicated than it was last year, but the money is real money and a big help, worth the trouble to get through the paperwork. Many states have programs to help low-income people pay for electric bills, weatherization, or new HVAC equipment like heat pumps.

  8. Federal tax credits The tax credits are so much better this year thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. It’s worthwhile spending time familiarizing yourself with these credits, so you can use your larger than expected refund to fund your next clean energy project (and make use of the tax credits again). Unfortunately, these tax credits are not much help to low-income people.

  9. Borrow the money through a home equity line of credit, bank loan, or financing through the company where you buy the equipment. Even if you pay interest over time, you will still come out ahead in the long run. States may also offer green energy loans. Avoid using credit cards with predatory interest rates.

  10. Synergy: Solar was our gateway to clean energy, but it doesn’t matter where you start. The savings on one project allow other good things to happen. Not only do we save on electricity, but we also save on the heating oil and gasoline we no longer need to buy (plus there is less maintenance expense with the electric car). Our solar panels protect us from utility rate hikes, increase our property’s value (on average 4.1% per Zillow) but did not increase our insurance rates.

  11. Pay it Forward: If you can, give solar, heat pumps, etc. to a young adult in your life. It is hard for young people to get started in this expensive world. You can help them get a jump on savings, as well as make the world a better place.

Janis Petzel, MD is a physician, grandmother and climate activist whose writing focuses on resilience, climate, and health. She lives in Islesboro, Maine where she advocates and acts for a fossil-fuel free future. She serves on the Islesboro Energy Team and is a Climate Ambassador for Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Editors’ note: In relation to 7 and 8 above, the federal assistance for heat pumps (as home heating and cooling equipment) and their installation may change in the near future.


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