FACTBOX: Incentives to retrofit buildings

Wed Sep 2, 2009 7:26pm EDT

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(Reuters) - There are numerous U.S. government tax incentives and utility rebate programs aimed at defraying the cost of renovating buildings and installing systems that save energy.

Here is a sampling:

- Homeowners can get federal tax credits of up to $1,500 through 2010 for installing new windows; building insulation; new roofs that mitigate heat island effect; high-efficiency gas, oil and propane furnaces and boilers; ground-source or geothermal heat pumps; biomass stoves; high-efficiency fans for heating and cooling systems; high-efficiency water heaters; and efforts to seal building cracks and ducts.

- Some $300 million in federal stimulus funds have been allocated to the states to give consumers rebates when they buy energy-efficient appliances, to be available in the fall.

- 30 percent tax credits are available for expenditures on solar heating, lighting or energy generators (excludes systems used for swimming pools); for fuel cells; for geothermal heat pumps; and for small wind systems with up to 100 kilowatts of capacity.

- A 10 percent tax credit is available for microturbines (small engines generating less than 2,000 kilowatts), and combined heat and power systems that tap heat from engines.

- Manufacturers of energy-efficient clothes washers, refrigerators and dishwashers can qualify for credits of between $45 to $250 per appliance. Each manufacturer is capped at $75 million for the period through 2010, though the caps do not apply to the most efficient refrigerators and washers.

- Home builders can take a tax credit of $2,000 per home sold that saves at least 50 percent of the heating and cooling energy relative to an international standard. The credit is $1,000 for homes with 30 percent energy savings or that qualify for the federal "Energy Star" homes program.

- Building owners can qualify for a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot if they reduce energy and power costs from a certain standard by installing energy efficient interior lighting, improve the building envelope, and put in efficient heating, cooling, ventilation, or hot water systems.

- Building owners can accelerate property depreciation by installing a variety of solar electric and solar thermal technologies, fuel cells, microturbines, geothermal systems, small wind turbines, combined heat and power systems.

- Commercial and industrial users of wind, geothermal, or biomass energy qualify for tax credit of 2.1 cents per kilowatt/hour.

- Utilities such as Illinois' ComEd offer businesses rebates for installing energy efficiency improvements, not exceeding half of the project cost. The rebate is limited to

$300,000.

- Utilities offer residential customers and building owners various services and discounts on high-efficient light bulbs, appliance recycling, and energy audits. For instance, ComEd offers discounts on up to 12 CFL compact fluorescent bulbs, a $25 rebate on recycling of old refrigerators, and will install an efficient showerhead and wrap a water heater in insulation.

Peoples Gas in Illinois offers customers rebates of up to $600 after they purchase a highly energy-efficient boiler, $450 on a furnace, $400 on a water heater, $100 on a clothes washer, and up to $750 on insulation.

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(Sources: Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, U.S. Department of Energy, energytaxincentives.org Web site)

(Reporting by Andrew Stern)

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