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What does the energy bill mean for you?
Once signed into law, consumers can earn tax credits by conserving energy at home and on the road.
July 29, 2005: 2:43 PM EDT
By David Ellis, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The national energy bill, approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate this week, focuses mostly on expanding energy production. But lawmakers inserted some incentives for consumers to conserve energy in their homes and cars.

The $14.5 billion legislation, which won by a wide margin in Congress, is expected to be signed into law by President Bush sometime next week.

Listed below are some of the tax breaks that home owners and car buyers can expect if the energy bill is signed into law.

Tax breaks for the home

Under the new bill, consumers are eligible for up to a $500 tax credit for money they spend on energy improvements in their homes.

Homeowners, for example, can get $300 credit for highly efficient central air conditioner, heat pump or water heater. Installing energy-saving windows could be good for a $200 credit.

While not directly affecting your pocketbook, manufacturers of energy efficient washers, dryers and refrigerators are eligible for tax breaks themselves, which is expected to increase the availability and a drop in prices for these energy-saving appliances.

Consumers are also eligible for a 30 percent tax credit, or up to $2,000, for purchasing a solar-powered water heater or any fuel cell equipment for their home.

Consumers who want to take advantage of the energy bill tax breaks for their home must do so between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2007.

Tax breaks on the road

Under the bill, American car buyers are also eligible for a number of tax breaks.

By purchasing a hybrid or diesel car after Jan. 1, 2006, consumers can get a tax credit anywhere from $500 to $3,400 dollars, depending on the fuel efficiency of the car.

The tax credit for a Toyota Prius, for example, would range anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000, according to Toyota.

While the bill rewards owners of hydrogen and electric cars as much as $8,000 in tax credits, the number of vehicles owned by American consumers that are powered by alternative fuels are negligible.

Some energy conservation advocates note that while the legislation advances some important changes, the new bill does little to curb one of the nation's biggest energy problems - U.S. reliance on oil.

"The bill passed by the House and Senate will increase the use of energy efficiency technologies to extend our nation's energy supplies," Kateri Callahan, the president of the Alliance to Save Energy President, said in a statement. "But, the bill falls far short of making energy efficiency a cornerstone of U.S. energy policy. Most alarming is the bill's failure to curtail our growing and dangerous oil addiction in the transportation sector, which accounts for two-thirds of total U.S. oil use."

The bill's final version did not include other energy saving recommendations such as the Senate's recommendation that the federal government find ways of trimming oil demand and improving fuel efficiency on gas-guzzling cars.


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