Energy Feed

Reviewed and updated March 17, 2024 Photo by Chris F In February 2023, Austin took another winter weather hit. A surprisingly heavy freeze ended with broken tree limbs taking out power lines, leaving tens of thousands of Austin households and businesses without electricity for days. We were among the powerless. During the three days we sat huddled in our increasingly cold house, griping about the third consecutive and unusually cold winter (thanks, no thanks, La Niña!), we realized we needed to look into making some improvements to our house. The energy efficient upgrades will also help in a couple of... Read more →


For most U.S. families, summer vacation involves a road trip. Taking to the country’s highways is a chance to enjoy new landscapes, listen to (and sing along with) favorite playlists, and share time with the family. Road trips also mean stops for fuel, both for auto occupants and the vehicle. The good news for summer 2024 drivers is that the cost of gasoline isn’t that bad. AAA data show that the average price of gas as of mid-July is just more than $3.50 a gallon. That’s the same as the average price per gallon in 2023. Motorists in seven states,... Read more →


Photo by Leeloo The First Tax scams tend to slow down after the main federal return filing season, but they never go entirely away. That’s still true as we head into the heart of summer 2024. The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers there is a new scam involving the purchase of clean energy tax credits. This latest scheme, like so many, is based on a real tax break. Legal credit, but limited: The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law on Aug. 16, 2022, contained provisions that dramatically changed federal clean energy tax credits. The law... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images Tax credits are better than deductions because credits provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction of tax you owe. But sometimes, getting a credit’s benefit in a real-life cash-flow situation is better than the financial results at tax filing time. That’s the case, for example, in making a major consumer purchase, like a car. And that’s why the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service last year issued guidance on the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act clean vehicle provisions to help buyers of qualifying energy-efficient autos get immediate use of the credit. Under the rules, eligible vehicle buyers... Read more →


The coming Memorial Day break is seen as the unofficial start of summer in the United States. It’s also usually been the start of higher summer gasoline prices. That’s not the case this year. So far. Pump prices rose nationwide this spring, but actually have fallen a tad recently. Today’s AAA national average of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.598. That was up a smidge (0.008) from yesterday, May 20, but less than the $3.612 recorded a week ago. Record road trips: Will the lower gas prices hold? An expected record number of drivers hope so, at least until... Read more →


Earth Day 2024 is tomorrow, April 22. But today is so nice — we finally got some rain, and the butterflies and hummingbirds are taking over our backyard — that I decided to celebrate a day early. This special day dedicated to the ecological issues facing our planet was first held on April 22, 1970. Back then, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson came up with the idea separately. But they agreed that Americans should join en masse in grassroots demonstrations to highlight environmental threats. McConnell wanted Earth Day events to happen on March 20, which... Read more →


Most states hold sales tax holidays in late summer, pegging he events to the resumption of the school year. But there are a few tax holiday over-achievers. They supplement their back-to-school tax-free events with additional sales tax savings. The standard bearer of late has been Florida. The Sunshine State in 2022 and 2023 enacted a variety of tax holidays, some of which extended into this year. Florida also kicked off 2024 with a semester break back-to-school tax holiday in January. Other states' special shopping events will include no taxes on emergency supplies, energy efficient products, food, and even firearm-related purchases.... Read more →


Most taxpayers will never be as chill as this tabby, especially now that the annual tax filing season is here. But these tips could make the tax task a little easier. (Photo by Jacalyn Beales on Unsplash) If you've already got your 2023 tax return ready to send to the Internal Revenue Service tomorrow, Jan. 29, when the agency starts processing filings, you can peruse other items on the ol' blog. (Thank you!) If, however, you're not quite ready yet to tackle Form 1040, I got you. Even when your taxes aren't complicated, many of us dread filling out tax... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images Tax season 2024 officially starts Monday, Jan. 29. Lots of taxpayers have already filled out their 1040 forms and are just waiting for the Internal Revenue Service to start processing them next week. Most of these early filers are expecting tax refunds. They also likely have relatively simple tax lives. Lucky them. Others, however, have more complicated tax and financial circumstances. These folks have more tax documents with details that must be transferred to their return forms and schedules. They also need to consider how their situations might affect their tax returns. Below is... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images Electric vehicles (EVs) are supposed to be one way to cut fossil fuel emissions and help slow, if not stop, climate change. But the best laid plans often go awry when lawmakers get involved. A $7,500 EV tax credit was part of the climate-related tax provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act achieve change. But it came with limits, with the full amount applying only to EVs and plug-in hybrids assembled in North America. Then this week, the Treasury Department further tightened the EV credit rules. Now a certain percentage of the components and minerals... Read more →


Photo by Xingchen Yan on Unsplash If your work involves driving, the Internal Revenue Service has some good news for your 2024 business trips. Today, the tax agency announced that on Jan. 1, 2024, the standard optional mileage rate you can use to claim those eligible miles will go to 67 cents per mile. That's a 1.5 cent increase over the 2023 mileage rate. However, the other two mileage rates that the IRS evaluates and adjusts each year are going down. Travel for medical and, in the case of qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces, moving purposes will be... Read more →


Photo courtesy COP28 web page Around 70,000 participants are expected in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), over the next couple of weeks to discuss how to limit and prepare for future climate change. They're attending the 28th annual United Nations (UN) Conference of the Parties, known as COP28. The parties part of COP are the countries that signed the original UN climate agreement in 1992. And their current gathering comes at the end of a year of worldwide extreme weather events and a plethora of broken climate records. While climate change and human contributions to it are being acknowledged by... Read more →


If you stopped at a Georgia gas station today to top off your tank, you might have encountered a line. Peach State motorists will see fuel prices increase tomorrow, Nov. 30, as the governor's emergency suspension of the state fuel excise taxes expires. So you couldn't blame them for trying to get one last bargain at the pump. Gov. Brian Kemp's decree, first issued in September and then extended in October through most of this month, saved drivers of gasoline-powered vehicles 31.2 cents per gallon. Drivers of auto that use diesel saved 35 cents per gallon. In addition to the... Read more →


If you're just now getting to work on your extended 2022 tax return, which is due to the Internal Revenue Service by Monday, Oct. 16, don't panic. These tips will help you make the most of the little tax time left. (Image courtesy Taxpayer Advocate Service, which also has some tips for Oct. 16 filers.) It's almost Tax Day for extreme procrastinators. The extension you got for your 2022 return ends on Monday, Oct. 16. Since the tax clock is ticking, let's get right to these eight tips that can help you complete your Form 1040 by the fast approaching,... Read more →


Check out some October sweet tax treats below that could help make this month less scary, at least as far as your taxes are concerned. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) October is a scary month, and not just because of Halloween. Millions of uber procrastinators face a final mid-month deadline to file their annual tax return. It's also the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year. So, in addition to picking out your All Hallows Eve costume and hiding the holiday treats so your family won't eat them all before trick-or-treaters come knocking in a few... Read more →


If the owner of this Tesla I was behind a few years ago sells it, it could get the buyer a $4,000 used EV tax credit. (Photo by Kay Bell) This week brought a tale of two tax credits that were expanded as part of the Inflation Reduction Act for electric vehicles, usually referred to as EVs. Tesla fans got some good news. It appears that the electric automaker's used vehicle now qualifies for the $4,000 electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese EV manufacturer VinFast is working to get its autos on the list of new EVs that... Read more →


An energy audit might find that adding insulation can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. The formal inspection also could get you a tax break. audit could produce lower utility bills and a tax credit. (Photo via Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) In extreme weather, which happens year-round and more frequently nowadays, homeowners do their own residential energy audits. Depending on the season, we stand in hot or cold spots in our houses and try to figure out (1) why it's happening, and (2) how to remedy it. If you're finding yourself doing this more often, and... Read more →


Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash The heat wave that just won't loosen its grip on much of the United States (and world). That has many looking at energy options as traditional grids are stressed. The obvious options are wind and solar systems. Both, as well as many other alternative energy programs, got boosts in the Inflation Reduction Act. The law took effect last year and includes more than $300 billion in climate-related programs and tax incentives. Now the Biden Administration's energy chief is reminding faith-based groups that they, too, could be eligible for the Inflation Reduction Act tax credits.... Read more →


State programs complement federal tax breaks for energy-saving commercial and residential property improvements. 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! My phone's battery is being drained by the summer heat. No, not because I'm using it outdoors. I rarely leave my climate-controlled haven. It's being sucked of power because I'm getting an inordinate number of alerts about how freakin' hot it is in my part of Texas, as well as... Read more →


Danielle Scott via Flickr CC I'm exploring an auto insurance option that could my policy premiums. It's a discount for folks who don't drive very much. The trade-off is that I must install a travel tracker in my car. That same sort of tracking system is what a handful of states use to charge motorists by the distance they drive instead of by their fossil fuel usage. Oregon, Utah, and Virginia have implemented per-mileage vehicle taxes. Hawai'i is poised to be the fourth. And a national per-mile pilot program is planned, thanks to funding included in 2021's Infrastructure Investment and... Read more →


Running through a sprinkler is one way to beat the heat. Making your home more energy efficient can help, too. (Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash) Summer doesn't officially arrive until next week, but temperatures in much of Texas are running about 10 degrees above normal. My fellow Lone Star Staters and I are not alone. A brutal heat wave is expected to scorch much of the southern United States through the Juneteenth holiday weekend. The biggest worry during extreme temperatures, hot or cold, is that the public power grid will fail. Even when utilities manage to stay operational, customers... Read more →