Confused about the tax credits and appliance rebates? Worried you'll run out of time for both? Here's the straight story on what is going on and when:

Federal Tax Credits [1] – download the fact sheet [2]
These tax credits are intended to help homeowners install energy-efficient equipment. Several items are eligible for a credit of 30% of the cost through December 2010, including:

  • Biomass stoves
  • HVAC systems
  • Insulation
  • Roofing
  • Water heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights.

Several other items are eligible for the federal tax credit at 30% of the cost, with no upper limit, through 2016, including:

  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Solar energy systems
  • Wind energy systems
  • Fuel cells.

Finally, there are some vehicle tax credits available. These are limited and are phased out after a certain number of vehicles are sold. These include:

  • Hybrids, battery-powered, plug-in electric, advanced lean burn, fuel cell, or alternative fuel vehicles
  • Plug-in electric vehicles.

Energy Efficient Appliance Rebates [3]
Unlike the federal tax credits, the appliance rebates are distributed by each individual state. These state-run programs have been opening and closing throughout 2010, and many are still open.

The appliance rebate program is designed to help people replace their older, inefficient household appliances with more efficient ones. Depending on the state, these items can include dishwashers, clothes washers and driers, hot water heaters, and many others.

State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
[5]The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive list of state and local incentive programs you can take advantage of in addition to either the federal tax credits or appliance rebates. You can find incentives such as rebates offered by your utility provider, renewable energy sales tax exemptions – even utility loan programs! DSIRE is definitely worth checking out. These incentives have their own programs and timetables.

Don't let time run out on you – find out which incentives are right for your household and take advantage of them while you can.

Andrea Spikes is a communicator at DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which assists EERE in providing technical content for many of its Web sites.