Energy costs are predicted to reach record highs this summer. The Texas electricity grid continues to come under investigation and has trouble keeping up with demand. Additionally, the Lone Star State has lost more than 60% of its bottomland hardwood woods, much of it to reservoirs for urban water supplies, while Texans continue to irrigate their lawns liberally.
All of this makes now the ideal moment to start taking energy and water conservation at home and the office seriously. In Texas, a small number of products that save energy and water are exempt from sales tax during the sales tax holiday.
According to Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, “triple-digit heat, out-of-date water systems, and inefficient appliances can place a burden on our water supply and electrical infrastructures.” Texas residents can make improvements that will help relieve those stresses and cut their electricity bills while saving money on state and local sales taxes by taking advantage of these tax breaks.
PRODUCTS THAT SAVE ENERGY
However, the possibilities for energy conservation that qualify for the sales-tax exemption are severely constrained. The emphasis is on ENERGY STAR-rated appliances, although there is only a small list included: dehumidifiers, washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators that cost $2,000 or less (including mini-fridges). The list included ENERGY STAR-certified light bulbs, light fixtures, and decorative light strings in addition to incandescent and fluorescent lights. The exclusions are true whether you purchase, rent, or lease things.
Even though they are ENERGY STAR-certified, the following appliances are not eligible: water heaters, clothes dryers, stoves, ovens, attic fans, heat pumps, freezers, and any kind of refrigerator, including specialty refrigerators like kegerators and wine and beverage chillers. Several are significant energy consumers, so it is a little perplexing.
The largest energy consumers in the home, according to Direct Energy, are appliances (13 percent), lighting (9 percent), television and media devices (46 percent), air conditioning and heating (46 percent), and water heating (14 percent) (4 percent). According to Connect4Climate, water heaters account for 14% of appliance energy use, while refrigerators account for 4%.
The absence of sales tax deductions for solar energy goods is even more perplexing. However, as seen in this list supplied by DSIRE, the database of the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University, certain electricity companies, and municipalities do offer incentives for renewable energy.
A sales tax exemption for energy-efficient windows, including those with the ENERGY STAR label, is another flaw. Heat gain and loss through windows and skylights account for up to 30% of the energy used for heating and cooling homes.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Dallas-Fort Worth area has had some of the nation’s biggest population gains. Bureau of Census. Water conservation is therefore essential. Citizens must take the initiative because local governments and water utilities don’t provide many incentives for saving money.
On Memorial Day weekend, any item bearing a Water Sense label or badge, such as bathroom and kitchen fixtures and products that save water, were eligible for tax-free shopping.
The use of outdoor water presents significant water-saving options. In hot climates like North Texas, up to 60% of home water is used for outside purposes like watering gardens and lawns, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Water is wasted up to 50% using careless and ineffective watering techniques.
Many outdoor water-saving products, such as those used to conserve or retain groundwater, replenish water tables, or lower ambient air temperature to reduce water evaporation, are accepted for tax-free status but are not required to have the Water Sense label.
Mulch and other permeable ground covers, such as those that allow water to reach aquifers, subsurface basins, or water collection stations, are examples. Hoses for soaker or drip irrigation, moisture regulators for sprinkler or irrigation systems, rain buckets, and other rain and moisture-gathering systems are also acceptable.
Use mulches that enable rainfall to penetrate, such as cedar, hardwood, straw, or pine straw, to help the soil retain water. Mulches also aid in preventing weed growth. Other water-absorbing additives, like lava sand and expanded shale, do not qualify since they do not assist soil to retain water the way compost does.
Tax exemptions apply to trees, woody plants, shrubs, and perennials (but not annuals). The same goes for grasses, even some infamous water hogs like St. Augustine. For real water savings, choose locally suited plants that can withstand heat and drought.