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Here’s how to lower your home’s energy bill under the Inflation Reduction Act

Here’s how to lower your home’s energy bill under the Inflation Reduction Act

Heat pumps can significantly increase a home's energy efficiency for heating and cooling. The Inflation Reduction Act makes rebates and tax credits available for a wide range of energy efficiency upgrades. The projects not only lower utility bills but are good for the climate and create manufacturing and installation jobs. (Shutterstock)

By Pat Kreitlow

June 12, 2024

It begins with assessing your home’s current energy use, planning improvements, then getting connected to the credits and rebates that can create good Wisconsin jobs, reduce bills, and improve the climate.

Wisconsin homeowners could soon start to see lower energy bills through projects that get their start with funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. The law, signed by President Joe Biden in 2022, will invest $369 billion over the next decade as part of a broad national strategy to combat climate change, including nearly $9 billion to help homeowners and residents with energy efficiency improvements that will create jobs and save households an estimated $1 billion per year. 

Wisconsin is slated to get about $150 million of that household energy pool, evenly-divided between two approaches. 

The first is called HOMES and focuses on whole-home efficiency rebates for energy improvements that include things like improved insulation, adding solar, installing a heat pump, and so on. The value of the rebates is connected to how much a household will save after making the changes. According to one report, the program is worth up to $8,000 for households that cut energy use by at least 35%.

The other program is called HEAR, for Home Electrification Appliance Rebates. Like the name says, its rebates are focused on energy efficient electric replacements, ranging from $840 for a new electric/induction stove or clothes dryer to $2,500 for new, more efficient wiring and $8,000 for a heat pump system. Rebates vary by income so that low and moderate income households won’t be left behind in future energy savings.

As these rebates begin to be distributed, Wisconsin companies and groups are stepping forward to help homeowners.

Every home’s a little bit different than the other,” said Kevin Kane, chief economist for Green Homeowners United. “What we’ll do is come in and do an energy assessment of your house. You actually can get a federal tax credit just for getting an energy assessment. We’ll measure your windows, measure your insulation, and perform a series of diagnostic tests.”

“And with that,” Kane continued, in an UpNorthNews Radio interview, “we’ll run an economic model to figure out, ‘Hey, if I put this much money into insulating my attic, how much might I expect to get back? If I can reduce my energy use by 20% or more, how much federal incentive can I get for that? What sort of tax credits are available for this?’ And together we try to come up with a proposal for you that says, ‘How do I accomplish the goal of my house to make it more comfortable to fight climate change, to save energy? And how do I leverage as much federal or state incentive as I can to make it affordable?’ And some people are really surprised by what they learn for their home.”

Once homeowners have a project planned, Green Homeowners United can execute those plans with locally-trained workers.

“[We] create good union jobs in the residential sector, helping people fight climate change,” Kane said. “Especially for workers of color, in the communities that they live, being able to provide for [benefits] like vision, pension, and dental. And here’s the nice thing: You get homes in every single community. We have this ability, thanks to things like the Inflation Reduction Act [and Focus On Energy], to grab the bull by the horns, to take on climate change, but also to create jobs in communities all over the state.”

The Focus On Energy program has a tool that homeowners can use to search by zip code to find an energy assessor in their geographic area.

The Green Homeowners United website also has an online calculator that uses location, income, and family size to show the possible extent of rebates and state tax credits.

“I’m very excited for what’s coming,” Kane said. “And I do have to thank the Biden administration for all that’s happening.”

Author

  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

CATEGORIES: CLIMATE
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