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61% of Americans unaware of energy efficiency rebates, incentives

October 3, 2011 |  1:59 pm

Geothermal water heaterWhether it's a $60 utility rebate on a new refrigerator, a $500 federal tax credit for upgraded insulation or $1,875 from the state for replacing a natural gas water heater with a solar model, Southern California homeowners are eligible for dozens of financial incentives when they make energy-efficient upgrades.

But according to a new survey conducted for National Energy Awareness Month (October), few Americans are taking advantage of such incentives. Although half of the survey's respondents said they had made home improvements to save energy and money, 71% said they didn't take advantage of rebates, tax holidays or other incentives, and 61% said they were unaware such incentives even existed, according to the survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of climate technologies supplier Emerson. 

"Consumers are more interested in improving their consumption than reducing it," said Rusty Haynes, project manager for DSIREUSA.org, an online database that lists 2,750 policies and programs for rebates and incentives across the U.S., including 155 in California. "By reducing energy consumption, you have more money on hand to do other things, but I think a lot of consumers view that as work."

The database was founded by the U.S. Department of Energy in 1995 and is managed by the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University. Database users can search for eligible incentives in their area with the site's search tool, which allows them to filter searches by state, specific technology, type of incentive and whether the incentive is for a home, business, school or government entity.

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: A geothermal heat pump and hot water heater. Credit: WaterFurnace International