Energy Star and Federal Tax Credits

The USA government’s aim was to two kill birds with one stone; encourage the populace to embrace roofing products with significantly lower carbon emissions than conventional roofing materials while stimulating economic growth by providing jobs in the supply and installation of environmentally friendly roofs. Roofing materials produced under the Energy Star standards require less electricity to regulate their temperature in order to provide optimal conditions in the house. Materials that satisfy this criterion were mainly metal roofs with pigmented coating or asphalt with cooling granules. A full list of the materials that meet these standards can be obtained from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) but manufacturers are required to provide this information to buyers as well.

Using materials that meet the Energy Star standards allow homeowners to benefit from tax credits. And Although Energy Star-qualified products may be a tad more expensive than other alternatives, they lead to enormous savings further down the line in lower energy bills. You also get a federal tax credit of 30% on the cost (excluding labor and installation costs) when you opt for the energy efficient products. The 2012 tax credit is applicable to houses constructed within the year as well as those already constructed and expires at the end of 2016. If you own a second home that was constructed with Energy Star-approved materials, it also qualifies for the tax credit. Note that you have to own the house; those living in rental properties do not qualify for these energy tax credits. The types of houses covered include ordinary constructed houses, houseboats, mobile homes, cooperative apartments, manufactured homes and condominiums.

But what exactly are these Energy Star standards and where did they come from? They began life as a program pioneered by John Hoffman in the early 90s intended to encourage the uptake of products with reduced energy consumption by encouraging their manufacturers to voluntarily label them as such. It began with the labeling of computers and their associated products but was later expanded to encompass residential heating and cooling systems, lighting, office equipment and other items. Thanks to the Energy Star initiative, the EPA was estimated to have saved a whopping $14 billion in energy costs. The program has also succeeded in encouraging a massive switch by the public from the high-consuming incandescent lighting to the much more efficient options of CFL (compact fluorescent light) and LED (light-emitting diode) lights. Many offices in the USA are now also equipped with power management systems to control consumption.

Now to give you some of the specific standards manufacturers of various products have to meet in order to be granted permission to slap the Energy Star label on their merchandise. As of July 2007, computers had to be using 80 PLUS Bronze level power supplies or higher. Fridge makers desiring Energy Star qualification after 2008 needed to showcase savings of not less than 20% over the minimum standard. In the same vein, dehumidifiers rated under 25 pints of water extraction per day need to have an energy factor of 1.2 or higher.