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Summer is here! Time to PACE your energy use

Summer officially arrived on Friday. But the longest day of the year is far from the hottest. If 2013 is anything like last year, we'll all be cursing the heat during July

So now is the time to think about tuning up your air conditioning system.

Anigif_enhanced by SenorGIF-dot-com via BuzzFeed-dot-com reason 46
These pups probably would be cooler inside under the A/C instead of atop the condenser.
As a general rule, your cooling system works better when you
keep the outside air conditioning unit clear of everything, including pets!

If you need a new residential cooling system, look into the possibility that you can help cover some of the cost with the $500 lifetime maximum energy-efficient home improvement tax credit. It's back on the tax books through 2013.

Some businesses also might qualify for tax assistance in making commercial energy upgrades thanks to Property Assessed Clean Energy financing.

PACE-ing business energy use: Known as PACE, this loan program allows business owners to borrow the money for conservation or clean energy upgrades and pay it back through a property tax surcharge.

Qualified applicants can receive 100 percent financing and the property tax payback term can be as long as 20 years.

PACE is a local government/community initiative designed to encourage property owners to convert to more energy efficient systems. Buildings use nearly half of the energy we consume in the United States, says PACENow, a nonprofit advocacy group that tracks the program, and PACE efforts can help reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels.

In addition to eliminating upfront costs and providing low-cost long-term financing, PACENow says the program also makes it easy for building owners to transfer repayment obligations to a new owner when they sell.

Those advantages, says the group, are encouraging more states to enact laws allowing PACE options. Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing the program. PACENow estimates that the number of projects could easily double by the end of next year.

Today's New York Times story Tax Programs to Finance Clean Energy Catch On looks at some of the PACE success stories.

Homeowners aren't on PACE: But, as the article notes, the group for which PACE was originally intended -- homeowners -- is still largely left out.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac objected to the senior lien status that PACE financing shares with other property taxes and assessments and took steps to stop residential PACE, according to PACENow.

These agencies' actions, says the advocacy group, almost entirely stalled the development of residential PACE programs and put communities with existing programs at risk.

Expanded residential energy tax credits: Homeowners can still claim generous tax credits through 2016 for retrofitting their current residences or building new homes with solar energy systems, small wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps.

For these upgrades, the homeowner could get a tax credit -- a dollar-for-dollar tax bill reduction -- on up to 30 percent of the alternative energy system's cost, including installation. There is no limit on the amount that can be considered for the credit.

PACE advocates, however, are still working to open the program to more residential property owners.

The group's website provides a link where supporters can send an email to their Representative and Senators, as well as FHFA's Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco and President Obama urging them take action to make residential PACE options available.

But for now, if you're a business owner and PACE is available in your area, check it out.

And if you're a homeowner, look into the existing federal, state and local tax breaks and programs -- the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, or DSIRE, has close-to-home energy-saving assistance information -- that could help you keep your house cooler and your bank account intact this summer.

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