Eco Green Corner: Save your planet, save your wallet

The start of a new year inevitably fills our minds with ideas of self improvement. Many plan new exercise regimens, diets and outlooks, spurring thoughts of life after graduation.

Although most of us do not own houses yet, many own cars and some may have jobs. Along with these responsibilities, even students must complete taxes by mid-April. While these income expenditures are money-draining, they also can be adjusted to improve sustainability.  Using energy-saving appliances and automobiles reduces operating costs and purchasing these items is also rewarded with tax credits.

Electric and hybrid cars are more affordable than ever. A tax incentive of $240 to $3,400 is available for the purchase of a fuel-efficient and/or low-emission vehicle. The amount of tax money returned is dependent on the overall weight of the car and the amount of gas used by the engine. Though some believe sustainable living can be costly, it is actually the opposite.

Home ownership may be on the horizon for some of us and is considered a social norm for our parents’ generation. People owning a home are presented with many fiscal, emotional and physical challenges, but being sustainable is no longer one of them. Residential Energy Tax Credits are available for homeowners to make energy efficiency more affordable. A tax incentive of up to $500 is available for new windows, doors, HVAC systems, wall insulation and roofs to improve heat retention and lower heating bills.

This information can also be found on www.planetgreen.discovery.com. All you have to do is enter the tax credit form 5695 into line number 52 of your 1040 tax form to apply for a Residential Energy Tax Credit. These tax breaks are offered by the Obama Administration and with another presidential election on its way, you should take advantage of these sustainable incentives while they last.

­Hannah Strong

Westminster Eco-Rep

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