Haege: Tax credits, rebates remain for energy efficiency updates
Earth Day celebrations kick off next Wednesday, but today's a good day to look at saving money and upgrading your home's energy efficiency. Federal tax credits and rebates from utility companies are even more reasons to upgrade. Here is a breakdown on the available incentives you want to include in your energy-efficiency upgrade planning for 2015:
Federal tax credits
Federal tax credits are currently available through year-end 2016. For example, adding a geothermal heat pump, small wind turbines or certain solar energy systems may qualify you for a tax credit of 30 percent of the total cost with no upper limit. For information on the Federal tax credits, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's website at energystar.gov.
State of Michigan
Unlike tax credits, Michigan offers an Energy Efficient Qualified Home Improvement Credit Program that provides up to $30,000 in financing to homeowners for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements such as new windows and doors, new air conditioners or furnaces, or even new appliances. For information, surf over to the Michigan Saves website at michigansaves.org.
For 2015, this is where many homeowners have a chance to get some real money back for a variety of energy efficiency upgrades. Following are the specifics of some of utility rebate programs:
Consumers Energy — There are rebates for improving heating and cooling efficiency; increasing the R-value of your insulation, air and/or duct sealing. There are also rebates for window and patio door replacements. The rebates range from $10 for upgrading to a programmable thermostat all the way to $900 for a Tier 2 Natural Gas Boiler with a 95 percent AFUE or higher.
They also feature a rebate program when you buy various Energy Star certified appliances, with amounts from $10 to $50 dollars. Couple that with an appliance recycling program and that will net you up to another $15 rebate for recycling an old working air conditioner or dehumidifier and $50 when turning in that energy wasting second refrigerator or freezer.
In addition, when you have a Comprehensive Home Assessment of your home's energy usage from a participating Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified contractor, there are rebates that range from $100 to $500.
Find these and more at their website (consumersenergy.com).
DTE — For DTE customers, rebates are available for upgrading heating and air conditioning equipment, water heaters, insulation, sealing air leaks, and replacing windows and patio doors. Rebates range from $10 for adding a programmable thermostat to $1,000 for upgrading to a 90 percent AFUE natural gas boiler for its gas customers.
DTE also has an Energy Star appliance rebate program for eligible products, and their own appliance recycling program.
The DTE Energy Home Performance Program could net you additional rebates while helping you understand the best energy efficiency upgrades to make for your home.
For all the details, click on the Save Energy tab on the DTE website (dteenergy.com).
Consumers Energy and DTE rebates are contingent upon the products meeting various energy efficiency factors, and there is also a cap on the funds available each year for these rebates, so in essence they are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
These are just two of the more than 40 utilities operating in the state of Michigan.
If you are planning any upgrades to your home this year, make sure you determine if you can qualify for a tax credit or rebates before you start the project. While you will save energy and money with an energy-efficient air conditioner or new windows, the rebates you may qualify for may help offset the initial cost.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his "Handyman Show" on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. "The Handyman Show" can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.