The Green Home

Tax credits and utility incentives

Posted September 9, 2009 4:49 p.m. EDT

There’s never been a better time to invest in energy efficiency and renewables for your home. With State and Federal tax incentives, and generous utility rebates, you could get as much as 65 percent of a project paid for — slashing payback times by more than half. But it’s a confusing world out there — here’s the lowdown on what’s available.

Under the Federal Stimulus Plan, the government increased the amounts you’re eligible to receive for some efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems. Here’s what it means to you:

  • The new program runs through 2010.
  • 30 percent tax credit with no maximum for wind turbines, solar (hot water or PV) and geothermal systems.
  • 30 percent tax credit up to $1500 for qualifying Water Heaters, Furnaces, Boilers, Heat pumps, Air conditioners, Building Insulation, Windows, Doors, Roofs, Circulating fans used in a qualifying furnace.

There are a few caveats — The $1500 limit above is the aggregate total for any combination of the above items, through the end of 2010. You do not get separate $1500 tax credits for HVAC, insulation and windows and doors, for instance. You must also make sure that equipment you install meets the efficiency requirements for that item and that the supplier or installer supplies you with the Manufacturer’s Certification Statement stating such. (These don’t get filed with your taxes, but should be kept with your tax records).

North Carolina has also pitched in to soften the blow for certain renewable technologies:

  • This program runs through 2016
  • It includes: Passive Solar Space Heat, Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, PV, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Renewable Transportation Fuels, Spent Pulping Liquor, Solar Pool Heating, Daylighting, Ethanol, Methanol, and Biodiesel
  • You can receive a 35 percent state tax credit with maximums ranging from $1,400-$10,500 depending on the technology installed.
  • A maximum of $3,500 per dwelling unit for residential active space heating, combined active space and domestic water-heating systems, and passive space heating;
  • A maximum of $1,400 per dwelling unit for residential solar water-heating systems, including solar pool-heating systems;
  • A maximum of $10,500 per installation for Solar PV systems, wind-energy systems or certain other renewable-energy systems for residential use.

In addition to both federal and state tax credits most of major utility providers and some of the local electric cooperatives are offering their own rebates and incentives tied to specific home improvements and appliance upgrades.

In all cases there are specific performance ratings the replacement equipment must have to be eligible for these rebates.

Here’s the rundown on our local utility rebates:

Progress Energy HEIP Program

  • Rebates for insulation, duct testing and sealing, heating and air replacement and tune-ups and window replacement.
  • Insulation rebate is subject to meeting maximum existing insulation levels and having air sealing done in conjunction with the insulation
  • Rate Discount (5 percent) for Energy Star Homes

Duke Energy Residential Energy-Efficiency Program

  • Applies to new or existing construction
  • Rebates for heat pumps, air conditioners and geothermal systems
  • Rate Discount (5 percent) for Energy Star Homes

Piedmont Natural Gas

  • Covers gas furnaces and gas water heaters (tank or tankless)

Piedmont EMC

  • Heat pump and solar hot water rebate

In summary, there’s no reason to suffer through a hot summer or cold winter. With all of the available incentives, you can pay for most improvements within a couple years with lower bills. Just make sure your contractor is familiar with the programs and knows which equipment qualifies. In addition to the tax and rebate program, there are also several financing opportunities of which to take advantage.

If you’re considering solar or geothermal systems, now is the time to act. In most cases, you can get over 60 percent of the system paid for with federal, state and utility credits and rebates making the return on investment very attractive.

For more information about these programs and many others, please check out the DSIRE web-site, This site is maintained by the NC Solar Center and is updated as regularly to keep up with the ever-changing world of incentives.

About this Blog:

Bobby Ferrel, founder of Green Horizon oversees The Green Home blog. Ferrel is co-founder of Green Horizon, with offices in the Triangle and Charlotte, offering home owners and builders a one-stop shop for energy efficiency and green building. Services include home performance assessments, weatherization, closed crawl spaces, all types of insulation, HVAC and geothermal installation and maintenance. Reach Bobby directly at or visit him online at