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Using Energy Star Appliances and Electronics

What is Energy Star?

Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient appliances and other home items. It started as a voluntary problem primarily pertaining to the computer industry, but expanded rapidly to include appliances and even building materials and construction practices.

Why Energy Star? Energy Star establishes a baseline of efficiency ratings that manufacturers can build their products meet. These ratings assure that qualified products at least meet minimum efficiency standards set forth by Energy Star. The manufacturer benefits by being able to place a label on it's equipment, which gives them more value in the market place. Consumers benefit when buying Energy Star equipment with the assurance that it is the most efficient available.

What Types of Equipment are Included in Energy Star?

Types of equipment that can achieve Energy Star Certification fall into several categories for the home:

  • Electronics including computer equipment, home entertainment, phones, and set-top boxes.
  • Home Appliances including dishwashers, Refrigerators, freezers, room air cleaners and purifiers, and water coolers.
  • Heating and Air conditioning equipment, boilers, dehumidifiers, furnaces, heat pumps, insulation, .
  • Building Products such as sealer and insulation, roofing materials, windows and doors.
  • Lighting and Fans
  • Plumbing, water heaters, solar water heaters, and tankless water heaters.

Government and Utility Authority Incentives

There are many incentives provided by the government for Energy Star purchases.

  • Energy Efficiency Tax Credits Currently there are many home improvement tax credits available. Some will expire at the end of the year, while with others you will be able to take a tax credit up to 2016. The 2016 credits are mainly for expensive upgrades such as solar panel installation and geothermal pumps. Most energy efficiency tax credits are good for up to $1500 and/or 30%.
  • Energy Efficiency Grants Most federal energy efficiency grants are available for states, counties, and cities, but not for individual home owners. The grant program, called The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG), is designed to kick start or provide pilot money for energy efficiency projects at the community level.
  • Energy Efficiency Rebates Energy efficiency rebate are available primarily at the state level. Most rebates are available for appliances, water heaters, and heating and air conditioning equipment. As with the federal credits, there are expiration dates and with limited state budgets, most are available on a first come first served basis. Only a limited amount of funds are available.
  • Energy Star Appliance Rebate These are rebates for buying new Energy Star home appliances. They are usually mail in rebates that could originate from anywhere in the supply chain. For example, a new Energy Star refrigerator could have available a rebate from the manufacturer, the local utility company, the retail appliance shop, or even a credit card company. The Energy Star web site has and neat form that allows you to find rebates available for a particular appliance or electronic device you are currently shopping for in your zip code. It can be found at Special Offers and Rebates from ENERGY STAR Partners.
  • Energy Efficiency Loans This type of financial assistance is available for two purposes: new home purchases and home improvements. For home purchases, an energy efficient mortgage (EEM) is available that requires the seller's property to jump through some hurdles before the loan can be approved. These types of loan are guaranteed through the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department and may also be available for conventional loans. The house for sale must be inspected by a HUD certified entity to meet certain minimal energy efficiency standards. Once the home is approved the buyer will qualify for the EEM.

    The other type of loan available is a home equity loan serviced by you local bank for home energy efficiency improvements. These kind of improvements include adding insulation, upgrading your furnace, and installing solar panels, for example.

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