Homeowners: Your Local and Federal Governments May Help You Pay for Green Renovation

Government support for green renovationHomeowners hoping to make green improvements on their homes can get support from both local and federal governments. This support ranges from grants to low interest loans to tax breaks, and can help us do everything from install energy-efficient appliances and solar panels to completely remodel with sustainable materials. These are just a few of the incentive programs available to homeowners in 2012, broken down at the federal and state level.

1. Federal Support for Green Renovation

The Feds, these days, tend to focus on more bang for the buck when it comes to green grants: commercial and big developer incentives over individual homeowner incentives. Still, there are federal programs for energy efficient upgrades. Below are three:

  • The Weatherization Assistance Program

A joint effort of The Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, this program provides funding for weatherization services such as upgrading to Energy Star appliances or replacing aging heating/cooling systems. The program targets low-income families, meaning the family income cannot exceed 200% of the current federal poverty level. This number changes based on how many people are in the family, however, so for a helpful graph on this information, visit Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2012 here. If qualified, a family can obtain up to $6,500 to weatherize a home, and will save an average of $437 per year on utilities.

Rural Energy for America Program Grants

  • The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development branch offers these grants to the likes of farmers and ranchers so that they can upgrade to renewable/efficient energy systems.  These are incredibly generous grants: a small farm in a rural area could receive between $250,000 and $500,000 to install such systems/make improvements.  
  • Green Retrofit Program for Multifamily Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers up to $15,000 for the purpose of retrofitting/remodeling a multi-family home or building using green materials and construction practices.  In order for owners of such buildings to qualify for the grant, the renovations must reduce the overall energy consumption of the building and its residents, demonstrating the benefits to those residents and their surrounding environment.  

2. State Level Support for Green Renovation

Each state of the union offers different kinds of incentives to homeowners, and those incentives change often in reflection of new technologies, the economy, and consumer demand. Each city within a state will also differ in terms of the area it most supports, so your best bet is to consult your city's government pages for the most recent energy efficiency incentive programs.

For example, just a small sampling of Texas area programs includes:

Property Tax Incentive

City of Houston - Property Tax Abatement for Green Buildings

HRenewable Energy Systems Property Tax Exemption

Sales Tax Incentive

Memorial Day Weekend Sales Tax Holiday for Energy-Efficient Products

Utility Loan Program

Austin Energy - Residential Solar Loan Program

Utility Rebate Program

AEP (Central & North) - Residential Energy Efficiency Programs

Meanwhile, in California, possible programs (just a few among many) include:

Local Rebate Program

City of Long Beach - Residential Energy Efficiency and Solar Water Heating Rebate Program

City of San Francisco - Solar Energy Incentive Program

Marin County - Wood Stove Replacement Rebate Program

Property Tax Incentive

Property Tax Exclusion for Solar Energy Systems

In Colorado, a few of the many types of support include:

Local Grant Program

 City of Boulder - Solar Grant Program

Local Rebate Program

Boulder County - EnergySmart Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

Roaring Fork Valley - Energy Efficient Appliance Program

Property Tax Incentive

Local Option - Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Systems

Sales Tax Incentive

Local Option - Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Systems

Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Equipment

Utility Rebate Program

Atmos Energy (Gas) - Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

The best way to see what your state offers right now is to consult the U.S. Department of Energy (DSIRE) website. DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Stat esupport for green renovation


Further Resources

3 Great Cities to Buy the New Green Construction of Your Dreams

Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert.