Resolving to Make Your Home Greener This Year? There May Be Federal Funds That Can Help
January 2, 2023
CRANSTON, R.I. — New Year’s resolutions can take many forms.
This year I want to save money!
In 2023, I want to be greener!
Starting Jan. 1, I’ll never eat another chocolate croissant again!
This year, the federal government wants to help you accomplish those goals — well, at least the first two — through billions of Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) dollars.
“It’s one thing to have these programs available. It’s one thing to have federal tax advantages, et cetera. But if no one knows about it, it doesn’t make any sense,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in late December, standing next to a Rhode Island-made heat pump, the first manufactured in the Ocean State.
Heat pumps are more efficient heating and cooling systems that can help households save money and reduce emissions. They are also among the appliances and systems eligible for tax credits this year through the IRA.
The senator was speaking at an event hosted at Taco Comfort Solution in Cranston, where Rhode Island heat pumps are made, to promote some of the new incentives and rebates state residents can take advantage of.
Reed began rattling off rebates: up to $7,000 for a new electric car and $4,000 for a used electric car; rebates for energy-efficient appliances and retrofits total $9 billion; the IRA gives Rhode Island $4.5 million to discount renewable energy upgrades.
Using Rewiring America’s IRA Saving Calculator, Reed said Rhode Islanders can see how much they could save by switching to cleaner energy and how much they could save annually if their utilities were greener.
A family of four living in East Providence and making $100,000 annually could receive an estimated $25,700 in energy incentives and save about $1,000 on their energy bill each year, for example.
Ari Matusiak, CEO and co-founder of Rewiring America, recounted his own experience trying to afford heating a home in Rhode Island after graduating from college and paying $650 in rent and $650 on an oil bill all in the same month.
“The idea of spending as much money on my heating as I was on my rent … was a pretty sort of sobering realization,” he said.
Although many of the incentives and savings will go to homeowners, Matusiak said rebates for electric stoves, heat pump window-unit air cooling and heating systems, heat-pump clothes dryers, and other energy-efficient appliances could be utilized by renters and brought to new residences.
Matusiak noted landlords may be incentivized to make their property greener because the volatility in fossil fuel options is making inefficient homes more expensive and less attractive to potential tenants.
“People will, at a certain point, say, ‘You know what, that’s actually like a surcharge on my rent. I’m going to go look for someplace that is more efficient, energy efficient, so that it’s more affordable,’” he said.
Rewiring America will soon have material available for renters to present to their landlords about some of these incentives, according to Matusiak.
Many of these programs started last year, while others became available Jan. 1.
Here are some of the opportunities that residents can take advantage of:
Residents that place solar panels on their roofs can be eligible for a tax credit for 30% of the cost.
To add insulation or energy-efficient windows and doors, households can receive a $1,200 tax credit.
There is up to a $150 in credit for an energy audit. (Rhode Island also offers energy assessments for free.)
Households could get up to $4,000 in rebates to make their homes more efficient with electric appliances and retrofitting. Low-income households could be eligible for up to $8,000.
Households that install heat pumps can receive a tax credit for 30% of the cost.
Up to $2,000 is available for households that need electrical upgrades to install a heat pump.
Low- and moderate-income households could receive up to $8,000 for heat pumps and $4,000 for electrical upgrades needed to install one.
One hundred percent of the cost of some appliances such as heat pump water heaters and clothes dryers are covered for low-income households.
If buying a new, American-assembled electric car, which has a battery that meets certain sourcing standards, income-qualifying households can get up to a $7,500 tax credit.
Buying used electric cars that are at least two years old and cost $25,000 or less can get households up to a $4,000 tax credit.
The IRA sunsets in 2032, so many of the incentives will be available for several years.
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Although I would gladly add 5 or 6 more solar panels to my existing array I can’t find an installer that is willing to take a small project and I’ve been told by the RI Commerce Corp that I don’t qualify for any state incentives because my existing array received a credit under the Solarize RI program.