Get paid for Energy Efficiency
As ironic as it may seem, energy companies are working hard to have consumers use less energy or at least use it more efficiently. Existing grid systems are straining at capacity during the summer cooling seasons. Coupled with the high cost of building new generating plants and the occasional need to use rolling blackouts to manage loads, promoting conservation is key to controlling costs and avoiding prolonged outages.
Locally, Duke Energy has several incentives for making energy smart improvements to your home. These include the "Smart $aver" program that will provide a rebate for installing high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and the "Power Manager" program that provides a credit for installation of power load management equipment. For specific details about these programs, visit the Duke Energy Savings Programs website.
Additionally, many improvements are eligible for tax rebates and other incentives. Check the 2005 Energy Policy Act summary for a list of eligible improvements. (NOTE - many of these have ended as of 2008. Stay tuned to see if Congress will extend the credits into future years.)
Want to go in the deep end of the pool? Cincinnati is on the leading edge with its tax abatement policy enacted last year for LEED-certified development. (LEED is the US Green Building Council's "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" standards.) Homes meeting the necessary certification can be free from property taxes for 10 years (for rehabs) or 15 years (for new construction). For more see the City of Cincinnati announcement. A summary of the policy can be found on the Database of State Incentives website.