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Volume 15, Issue 33 ~ August 16 - August 22, 2007

Got an Environmental Question? Send it to: EARTH TALK, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881. Or submit your question at: Or e-mail us at:

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Incentives to Buy Green

People and business can save greenbacks with green decisions

What tax or other government incentives are there out there for buying green — for individuals as well as businesses?

–Sarah Rafferty, New York, N.Y.

There has never been a better time than now to tap into a laundry list of tax rebates and other financial incentives to encourage individuals and businesses to go the greener mile. At the federal level, you can reap the rewards of no less than eight different financial incentives ranging from tax credits and home loans for replacing windows and installing insulation around the house to tax rebates for purchasing a hybrid car or hooking up a solar hot water heater.

Besides these federal incentives, nearly every U.S. state has additional state or local incentives. Many require utilities to rebate consumers who save electricity. Some utilities even offer net metering, whereby consumers who generate some of their power through rooftop solar panels or other technologies can sell electricity back to the utility, thus reducing or zeroing out their electric bill — even earning money.

Many financial incentives are in place for businesses, as well. At the federal level, examples include an energy-efficient commercial buildings tax deduction, a business energy reduction tax credit, an energy-efficient appliance tax credit for manufacturers and a new energy-efficient tax credit for green-savvy builders.

At the state level, many are eager to attract renewable energy companies to their region and offer tax breaks to get them there. Washington state, for example, charges no sales tax on renewable energy equipment produced or sold there. Some forward-thinking cities are beginning to offer density bonuses and green-building incentives to developers and builders to encourage sustainable land use.

The best place to look for what’s available is to steer your web browser to the free online Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Database is a federally funded project of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, whose membership includes state and local government agencies, national laboratories, renewable energy companies and advocacy groups.

For more information:

• Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency:

Got an environmental question? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at or e-mail Read past columns at:

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