FORUM: Ditch energy ‘clunkers’ now

  • Tue Oct 26th, 2010 7:24pm

By Carolyn Chapel

The Cash for Clunkers program was popular, with many people getting cash for trading their gas-guzzling cars for more energy efficient ones. That program is over, but there are now several programs that pay cash for home energy improvements, and they also will end.

There are rebates or tax credits for energy efficient appliances, improved heating systems and improved home insulation. Some of these improvements can receive rebates from more than one agency, such as your energy company plus the federal government.

My husband and I had work done on the heat ducts that are in the unheated crawl space of our 50-year-old house. The ducts had once been wrapped with a thin layer of insulation, but the insulation was falling off and there were leaks at the joints. We applied for the PUD program and were pre-approved. Then PUD’s contractors removed the old insulation, sealed the joints and put on a thick layer of insulation. We got a rebate from the PUD and a tax credit from the federal government. Best of all, our heating bills will be lower for many years in the future.

The federal government programs include rebates for 30 percent of the cost of various qualifying projects, up to $1,500, for improving your home’s energy efficiency by upgrading the heating system, insulation, windows, doors, or water heating. Most qualified contractors know which projects would qualify for the various refunds while also reducing your home’s energy costs. The agencies that supply your electricity and natural gas are good sources of information on improving energy efficiency. If you live in Lynnwood or Edmonds, an excellent source for information about specific home energy improvements for your home is the Sustainable Works program. This is a government subsidized program that provides home audits and recommends the improvements that would save you the most energy. Learn more at

Like the Cash for Clunkers program, these rebates for energy clunkers are for replacing equipment that you are using now, and these programs are coming to an end. A Washington state appliance rebate program is expected to run out of funds about the first of November. The federal program expires Dec. 31 and hasn’t yet been renewed.

Hurry to improve your home’s energy efficiency before winter weather sets in and rebates expire. Then enjoy lower bills and a more comfortable home for years to come.

Carolyn Chapel is a member of Sustainable Edmonds.