Climate Corner: Seize the opportunity

Jun 15, 2024

Vic Elam

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) came out with a report last year for the year 2022 and in it a scorecard ranking of all states, West Virginia and Ohio tied for 44th. States were scored in several categories, such as transportation policies and state government initiatives. Both states scored poorly in every category except in the “building energy efficiency policies,” while neither state scored especially well in this category, some credit was given for having building codes that foster energy savings, stringently applying those codes and providing incentives for energy savings construction in new homes and businesses.

Both states scored especially poorly in the “Utility and public benefits” section which looks at investment in energy production efficiency and how that might be passed along to users, in particular low-income homes, and health/pollution impacts from the utility sector. Both states scored a zero for “Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards and Clean Lighting.” States have historically led the way in establishing standards for appliances and other equipment, and by setting efficiency standards they have forced manufacturers to produce more efficient equipment. This score also relates to lighting, there is a lot of improvement to be made in Ohio and West Virginia if the states were to adopt efficient lighting requirements such as for streetlights.

Now you may ask, what does all this have to do with the title “Seize the Opportunity?” Well even though our states may not want to do the right thing and invest in opportunities to improve energy efficiency and quality of life, you can., and other sites have a wealth of information about how you can get federal income tax credits for making improvements to your home that will make your home more comfortable and will reduce your energy usage. These tax credits will be available through 2032 and have an annual limit of $3,200. I was able to save $1,100 on my taxes this year because of replacement of an exterior door and windows. Why companies that are constantly advertising their windows do not mention this incentive, I cannot understand.

There are many more household items or improvements that are eligible for tax credits and I encourage you to reference the websites for further information, but about anything that could save energy is eligible, even electrical panels, so that you can upgrade your electrical service to handle the increased load to switch from say a gas furnace to an electric heat pump, or to install an electric vehicle charging station. Most, if not all improvements must be Energy Star or have some efficiency rating to be eligible for tax incentives. Tax incentives are also available to renters.

Both states offer home weatherization assistance for low-income families and West Virginia’s website references a program that is coming to help with energy efficient appliances.

A home energy assessment or audit by a trained professional would be a good place to start. Some utility companies, like Appalachian Power, offer this service for free, and they may be able to provide additional cost savings for energy efficiency improvements. If you pay for an audit you can get tax credit for that as well.

Making energy efficiency improvements to your home can lower your energy bills, make your home more comfortable, more healthy, increase the value of your home, and of course make your home more environmentally friendly. There is no better time than now to seize this opportunity.


Vic Elam is a Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action member, an avid outdoorsman, and contributor to organizations that share his concern for our environment and the children we borrow it from.