There’s a hole in the tax code that’s costing you money
An op-ed by Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan.
We encourage all sorts of things through the tax code. We have incentives for home ownership, oil drilling, commuter parking, racehorses and farm equipment. We even let corporations write off punitive damages from lawsuits.
But since the beginning of this year, there are no longer any federal tax incentives encouraging energy efficiency -- none at all. This is not smart.
Hopefully everyone by now knows of the payoff that energy efficiency improvements can deliver. Consumers and businesses are saving billions of dollars a year from efficiency upgrades to homes, buildings and appliances that have for years been encouraged by federal policy. At the same time, we’re creating jobs weatherizing homes, manufacturing high-efficiency appliances and building materials like windows and insulation. We’re also better managing energy demand on stressed electrical grids and significantly reducing pollution.
While efficiency upgrades usually have a quick payback through lower energy bills, the upfront costs remain an obstacle for millions of American homeowners and building owners even though they would save money long-term. Innovative new financing programs are popping up around the country to help address this challenge. But tax incentives – such as ones that expired on Dec. 31, 2016 that gave homeowners a 10 percent tax credit for efficiency improvements, up to $500 – are a proven, cost-effective way of getting people to act.