More to come with Inflation Reduction Act incentives
By Chloe Bennett
A year ago this month, the U.S. passed what is considered the most significant climate change policy in the country’s history. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) gave $369 billion to energy security and climate change efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through tax incentives. Although tax credits through the package are available now, buyer rebates are coming later.
Last month, the Department of Energy began accepting applications from states to receive IRA dollars for home improvement rebates, which could come through up-front discounts on electric appliance or vehicle purchases.
Many New York residents are already eligible for home energy savings. Some state-funded rebates could be combined with federal tax credits and dollars from the IRA.
Dwight Stevenson, a Saranac Lake High School teacher, plans to use the federal act’s tax credit on an electric vehicle bought in January. Through the IRA incentive, his family could receive up to $7,500 in tax credit on the car’s purchase. He also used the state’s electric vehicle rebate, he said, which cut $500 from the total cost.
“Being able to deliver our personal transportation needs, and not using fossil fuels to do so, played a major role in our decision making,” Stevenson said. So far, he hasn’t faced challenges with charging the car’s battery or the Adirondacks’ cold weather.
He’s expanding his electric investment with heat pumps, he said, which were installed by Saranac Lake-based ADK Solar. Stevenson said his family will receive a $9,000 rebate for the project through the state. He plans to keep his traditional heating systems, including a wood pellet stove, in case he needs them in cold weather.
Heat pump sales in the Adirondacks are increasing at Cornerstone Services, based in St. Lawrence County, salesperson Tom Sochia said. The technology warms or cools homes using outside air that is transferred through a compressor. The installations on average cost around $30,000 for a mid-sized home, he said. State incentives such as the Clean Heat program give rebates between $100 and $3,000 and the IRA offers a tax credit of 30% of the cost, up to $2,000 per year.
A proposal from Gov. Kathy Hochul calls for ending natural gas hookups in new homes and buildings seven stories or less by the end of 2026. The ban was part of the state’s $229 billion budget, passed in May. Taller builds will be prohibited from using gas in 2029. The proposal does not apply to existing homes.
According to data analysis by nonprofit Canary Media, Americans bought more heat pumps than gas-powered furnaces in 2022.
In the hamlet of Paul Smiths, Jenn Lieb and her family began researching heat pumps for their home a couple of years ago and recently switched after her furnace quit in November. She has two of the devices with blowers, which distribute the air, on both levels of her home. She said she still used her wood stove in the winter for extra heat.
“We’re definitely following the news and trying to make decisions in our life that will do our part, so to say,” Lieb said. “We knew that this was the way that energy and heating was going, so it just made sense.”
Although her monthly electric bill increased, Lieb said she’s saving money by not paying for kerosene. During the installation process, she filed for the state’s rebate program and received $6,000 for the project. The home does have a propane monitoring system as a backup when cold temperatures decrease the heat pumps’ effectiveness, she said.
State applications for IRA rebate funding are due in January 2025. Still, it’s possible that the money will arrive in New York before then, according to information from the State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA.) It’s also unclear whether the money will create new rebate programs or increase amounts in the state’s existing programs, said Erin Griffin, director of the Adirondack North Country Association’s Clean Energy Hub.
Note: This story was updated with the formal title of the energy hub.