Its no surprise that the “cash for clunkers” program is a hit. Not only do you get a significant subsidy for a new car, those who participate are going to save big on fuel. Based on average annual mileage of 13,500 and $3/gallon gas, a modest 7MPG improvement saves about $3K over five years. Go for the Prius and its more like $7K. And these scenarios offer carbon reduction in that time frame of 10 – 25 tons!

It’s the proverbial “no brainer”!

Well how about cash for the clunkers that we live in? Go to Home Energy Saver and provide some info about your home and you’ll find five year savings better than that Prius upgrade. They also provide a host of useful reports and payback scenarios for the activities that provide these savings (SPOILER ALERT: Insulation and air sealing -together- are the absolute best bang for the buck).

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So where’s the cash? The good news is that there is a $1500 Tax Credit available for many of the activities that help save energy in a home. But things are a bit backward. The big subsidies are going to support renewable energy while the biggest impacts are in conservation.

Reduce. Then produce.

I like this memorable aphorism. Solar panels are the last thing you should put on a house – after you’ve done all you can to use the energy they will produce as efficiently as possible. Solar is dessert. You have to eat your veggies first!

Unfortunately that message has been a bit harder to communicate. It requires a bit of brain. So try the Home Energy Saver site to get a feel for what’s possible. Or check out the equally useful (but different) Energy Efficient Rehab Advisor. Both these useful tools are subsidized by the same tax dollars that brought us “cash for clunkers”.

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