Do Tax Incentives and Utility Rebates Work for Homeowners?

Do tax credits and utility rebates for energy efficiency get homeowners to commit to making those home improvements? That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? Before we answer that question, let’s ask another. Why is the government at all levels and most utility companies giving away billions of dollars in incentives?

The answer is future energy demands.

People at the top already know we can’t discover enough oil, dig enough coal, and put up enough solar panels to create the energy our country and the world will need to meet human demand in the near future. Our greatest fuel source is conservation. If we all saved 10-20% of the energy on all forms we are using, the United States would be well on its way to becoming energy independent one day. That’s the reason for the $1,500 Energy Star tax credit and $2,500 worth of rebates offered by Progress Energy and others. It’s cheaper to pay the incentives than build the plants or deal with the problems ahead. And I think that’s great. I couldn’t agree more with this plan of action.

But now back to our original question. Do these incentives make people invest the money to conserve? Although they certainly present a positive scenario, the answer is no. The reason I say they aren’t the sole factor is our energy is still relatively cheap. It’s sad to say but human nature isn’t to act until we feel pain or to the brink of destruction. We eat too much and then we become fat. We drink until we become drunk. We pollute until we can’t drink or swim. So we will continue to use cheap and dirty energy as a nation until we all feel more pinch in the wallet or we wake up to the travesty of mountain top coal removal, Gulf Coast oil disasters, global warming with universal consequences, and unfortunately more things that.We can’t win over the masses by only offsetting the cost part only of energy improvements.

In my opinion we must pull all hands on deck including domestic oil with safer back ups, cleaner CO2 scrubbing coal plants, more solar, more wind, more biofuel, more biomass, more geothermal, and definitely more conservation. We must keep developing ways to make clean energy cost less then dirty energy if we want people to use it. Truth is most people could care less about environmental concerns. Once people who do care accept that, we start thinking of how to work with those who don’t. The answer is profit. Make a cleaner planet profitable, and we will achieve all goals at hand. That is OK. We must get to that point. Tax credits and utility rebates are only one way to get people to act. You want to see someone act quickly, take money out of their pocket or put it in it.

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Chad Ray “That Green Builder Guy”

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