Entries in Energy Efficiency (4)


Congress Defunds Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Incandescent light bulbs are back. A last-minute rider attached to the omnibus government spending bill defanged the 2007 energy standards for light bulbs that would have rendered the good ol’ incandescent all but obsolete starting Jan. 1, by stripping funding for enforcing the ban.

Beginning next year, the federal government had planned to start banning cheap, energy-guzzling light bulbs and instead requiring more energy-efficient bulbs be manufactured and sold.

It was a bipartisan idea, but conservatives have come to hate it. It wasn’t just that the new bulbs are uglier, dimmer and more expensive, but that the federal government was dictating what kind of light bulb consumers could buy.

“The American people want less government intrusion into their lives, not more, and that includes staying out of their personal light bulb choices,” said GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who, as a member of the House, introduced a bill to roll back the incandescent ban.

So Friday Congress took the teeth out of the incandescent ban by eliminating the funds the Department of Energy would need to enforce it.

But what many Republicans are celebrating as a win for individuals’ light-bulb-choosing freedom will probably not save the energy-guzzling bulbs from disappearing off store shelves.

“The industry has moved on,” said Larry Lauck, a spokesman for the American Lighting Association.

Lauck said U.S. light bulb manufacturers have already “retooled” their production lines to build more efficient bulbs, he said.

Joseph Higbee, a spokesman for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents 95 percent of U.S. light bulb manufacturers, said even if the Department of Energy does not have the funding to enforce the energy efficiency standards, manufacturers are not going to retro-fit their assembly lines to produce the traditional, less-efficient bulbs.

“The manufacturers have invested millions into the transitions and a delay in enforcement undermines those investments and creates regulatory uncertainty,” Higbee said. “Without [federal] enforcement, it does allow bad actors to sell noncompliant products without fear of enforcement and that creates a competitive disadvantage for law-abiding companies.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Get Tax Credit for Making Your Home Greener

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Did you make changes in your home last year to reduce your energy bill?  If so, going green may pay off for you this tax season.

If you simply remodeled your kitchen or bathroom, the tax credit may not apply to you.  But if you invested in appliances or fixtures to make your home greener, then you may be able to write those expenses off.

Upgrades that make your home more energy efficient can earn tax credit that gives you back 30 percent of what you spent.  Some of those upgrades include skylights, outside doors, insulated windows, high efficiency furnaces, water heaters and central air conditioning units.  If they were installed in your primary residence in 2010, you can take up to $1,500 off your taxes.

The deadline to file your taxes is Monday, April 18.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tax Tip: Saving Energy and Taxes

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you upgraded your appliances or fixtures to make your home more green, you're likely to be eligible for a tax break.

“If you put in energy-efficient windows, doors, or something like that in 2010, you can get a tax credit of up to $1500,” said Eric Smith with the IRS.

The residential energy credit gives you back 30 percent of what you spent on your home -- up to $1500.

The credit is available for 2011 -- but reduced.

“That tax credit has been scaled back to $500 instead of $1500,” said Mary Beth Franklin with Kiplinger's Personal Finance. “If you took advantage of the $1500 credit in 2009 or 2010, you don't get another crack at the lower credit in 2011.”

There are, however, still some alternative energy credits on the books for larger home projects, like installing solar panels and small wind turbines.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Pushes for Energy-Efficient Businesses

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Focusing on domestic issues Thursday afternoon in Pennsylvania, even as the situation in Egypt rages on, President Obama announced the “Better Building Initiative” to make American commercial businesses more energy-efficient.

The president admitted that energy-efficient buildings “may not sound too sexy” but tried to spice it up a little for the Penn State crowd by saying that it is “one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs.”

Standing in front of a “Winning the Future” backdrop, a term coined in his State of the Union address last month, the president pushed the agenda of out-innovation, unveiling new initiatives that he said will make it easier for businesses to overcome the barriers of investing in innovation.

“If you're willing to make your buildings more energy efficient, we'll provide new tax credits and financing opportunities for you to do so,” Obama said. “So you show us the best ideas to change your game on the ground; we'll show you the money.”

The president gave what he called an “extreme example,” the Empire State Building whose owners are investing in renovations that will reduce their energy consumption. The investment will soon pay for itself and will save them $4.4 million a year in energy costs. The president issues a challenge to CEOs, to labor, to building owners, hospitals, universities and others to join in.

“So we're telling scientists and we're telling engineers all across the country that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields and focus on tackling the biggest obstacles to clean, abundant and affordable energy, then we're going to get behind their work. We as a country will invest in them. We'll get them all in one place, and we'll support their research. “

The goals: to achieve a 20-percent improvement in energy-efficiency by 2020, reduce energy bills for companies and business by about $40 billion annually, and save energy by creating new incentives and challenging the private sector to serve as a catalyst for progress.

One of the president’s initiatives to reach that goal is to create new and more effective tax incentives for building owners who are looking to make investments and upgrades in their buildings to save energy.

The White House says the existing tax codes incentives are “outdated and they aren’t working as effectively as they could be.” The budget will propose a new tax credit that they hope will increase by ten-fold the take of the credit over the coming years.

To pay for it, the president proposed eliminating tax breaks for oil companies to pay for tax incentives.
“They are doing just fine on their own,” Obama said of the oil companies. “So it's time to stop. That's what our project is."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio