There are various US federal and state and sometimes utility company incentives for installing renewable energy. The benefit is you reduce energy consumption through conservation and the subsidies pay for things like energy efficient lighting, appliances, and insulation. DSIRE USA, a database of State incentives has a list of the net metering rules (grid back feeding — i.e. selling energy back to the grid)) and all the main incentives for each US state. Other countries also have various subsidies as well, and these will be covered in a separate post.
For the low income homeowner or renter, there are additional subsidies for weatherization. This one comes from NY State:
The Weatherization Assistance Program.
New York State has the largest low-income residential energy conservation
program in the nation. The Weatherization Assistance Program reduces the
amount of energy required to heat homes and provide hot water, thereby
helping save energy costs and increase comfort. This program provides an
energy audit of the home to identify specific needs and provides services
to weatherize the home. Services might include weatherstripping, repair or
replacement of heating systems, replacement or repair of windows and/or
doors, addition of insulation, and minor repairs. Eligibility is based on
household income relative to federal low-income guidelines. Renters and
homeowners are eligible.
Some folks believe that subsidies are counter productive, and unnecessary. Jerry Taylor, Director of Natural Resource Studies, the Cato Institute says:
If energy conservation undertakings are warranted — and they often are — then the gains of energy conservation will be reflected in market prices and no subsidy is necessary. If certain energy conservation practices cost more money than they save through conservation, then a subsidy is unwarranted. Either way, there is no compelling need for conservation subsidies. They invariably do more economic harm than good. The federal taxpayer is left holding the tab — nearly $1 billion dollars in 1995.
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