What Is the Federal Government Doing?
Department of Energy
1. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy179:
a. Solar Energy Technology Program focuses on developing more efficient photovoltaic cells, low energy solar collectors and improving concentrating solar power technologies;
b. Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program promotes the use of wind energy and advance wind technology with the goal of making it price- competitive with fossil fuel;
c. Geothermal Technologies Program provides support to the private geothermal industry and increase energy production.
d. Energy Savers180 website gives practical information on energy efficient:
i. appliances and light bulbs;
ii. designing and remodeling techniques;
iii. insulation and air sealing;
iv. heating and cooling;
v. windows, doors and skylights; and
vi. eco-friendly landscaping and water heating systems for your home.
Furthermore, it also provides consumer information on installing renewable energy options for your home, including energy calculators and software resources.
Finally, the site also has a link to Financial Opportunities for Consumers,181 which gives advice on where to find federal tax credit information, rebates and financial assistance to purchase a residential or commercial renewable energy system.
2. The Weatherization Assistance Program:182 a program that works in conjunction with state and local governments to provide services to low-income homeowners that reduce energy costs by making their homes more energy efficient.
a. More specifically, the website provide information on weatherization projects in Texas (and other states), contact names and a complete list of Texas’s low-income energy programs. 183
3. The Energy Star Program: 184 (A joint program between the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. The tax credits outlined below are a result of provisions contained in The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the Stimulus Bill).
a. Describes the federal tax credits currently available for 30% of costs, with no limits through 2016, for the purchase and installation of solar panels, solar water heaters, geothermal pumps, small wind energy systems and fuel cells on new and existing; and
b. There is also a 30% tax credit through 2010 for existing homes and up to a maximum of $1,500 for home improvements, such as insulation, HVAC, windows and doors, roofs, biomass stoves, and non-solar water heaters.
c. The website also has a spreadsheet that summarizes all of the available tax credits for homeowners.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
1. The Energy-Efficient Mortgage Program: 185 A program that allows the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to offer mortgage insurance to incorporate the costs for energy efficient improvements in a mortgage for the purchase or refinance of a principle residence.
Other National Networks and Databases NOT Affiliated with the Federal Government
1. Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET): 186 A national network of mortgage companies, real estate brokers and other housing professionals that, among other things, provide a summary on mortgages specifically for energy efficient improvements and a list of lenders that offer them.
2. Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE): 187 This site compiles state, local, utility and federal tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficient improvements.
3. Smart Communities Network: 188 A website maintained by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, an organization dedicated to advocating sustainability in low-income communities. The site contains a wide range of information and links on sustainable development for urban and rural communities.