Volume III, Number 10
eMDE is a bi-monthly publication of the Maryland Department of the Environment. It covers articles on current environmental issues and events in the state.
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We all want to spend less money each month. How can you keep your home energy and travel costs down, while protecting air quality, your health, and our environment?
Electricity generated by burning fossil fuels releases nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and other pollutants into the air, as well as greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Vehicles produce emissions such as particulates, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide when they burn fuel. There are many ways you can reduce home and vehicle energy costs and related air pollution. Options range from simple no- or low-cost changes to long-term investments. There are also a number of incentives and rebates available to make it easy on your wallet, so why not take a home inventory today and get started with these suggestions below.
The simplest no-cost change is turning off lights and electronic equipment in empty rooms. Another easy change is replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFL). Although more expensive up front, CFLs use much less energy to produce the same amount of light and last many times longer than incandescent bulbs. See Energy Star’s Choose a Light Guide.
Weatherization is the process of making a home or building more efficient in retaining cool air during hot weather and warm air during cold weather. This includes everything from sealing cracks and increasing roof insulation to installing new windows and doors with high insulation values.
The federal government is offering tax credits for 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500 of total costs per homeowner, for many energy-related home improvements such as insulation, windows, and doors. Visit the Energy Star Web Site for more information including Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program provides low-income families with assistance in making their homes more energy efficient.
The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) sponsors the Maryland Home Performance Program, a center of information about home energy conservation and resources regarding home energy audits.
Montgomery County offers Residential Energy Conservation Property Tax Credits of up to $250 per fiscal year for energy conservation devices such as building insulation, caulking, windows, and doors.
There are many options for providing electricity to your home using renewable, clean energy sources such as a wind, solar, geothermal, or a fuel cell system installed on site. Over time, these systems provide substantial savings on home electricity costs.
MEA’s Windswept Grant Program offers grants for small-scale wind energy systems producing at least 1 kilowatt (kW) of electricity for residences. Grant amounts are $2,500 per kW, up to a maximum total grant of $10,000.
The MDA Solar Energy Grant Program offers grants for up to $10,000 for solar energy in homes.
The Geothermal Heat Pump Grant Program offers a limited number of grants for up to $3,000 for geothermal heat pump systems for homes.
The federal government is offering a 30 percent tax credit for home geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells, and windmills installed in 2009 or later. The tax credit is for 30 percent of the cost of the system for systems installed in 2009 or later.
MEA’s On the Road: Money Saving Tips and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy publications detail many ways you can reduce driving costs and emissions. By driving gently in the city and on the highway, inflating your vehicle’s tires to the proper pressure, selecting the right grade of motor oil, and reducing the weight of items in the trunk, you can save as much as $600 annually on fuel.
The U.S. Department of Energy offers several tax credits to reward consumers who purchase more efficient cars and certain light-duty diesel vehicles. Before you purchase your next vehicle, consider taking advantage of these incentives to reduce pollution.
For more suggestions on easy, low-cost ways to save on home energy costs, visit Residential Energy Saving Tips on the Maryland Energy Administration.
For more information about Maryland state and county incentives for homes, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).
To learn more about federal tax credits for home energy and passenger vehicles, visit the Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP).
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