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Click on 'Green' Rewards From Your State

Government agencies dole out money for energy-efficiency appliances and homes. Here's where to find the information.

Maybe you've read about celebrities greening their homes with solar panels and wondered about doing the same. Or you've thought about trading in your leaky windows for something more efficient. Or you just bought an Energy Star-approved washer/dryer. You've heard your state has programs that give rewards for such green-friendly moves but don't know where to find out about them.

I uncovered a source. The

Clean Energy States Alliance

is a coalition of 18 states that have established programs and goals around building a market for clean, renewable energy.

The site is typically bureaucratic with virtually no information for consumers. But it has links to a number of resources that consumers can use.

For starters, it has links to its members' Web sites. Some, like the Alaska Energy Authority and the California Energy Commission, have little that's of direct interest to consumers. But other sites were very helpful.

I was able to link to Web sites for residents of

New York

,

Connecticut

,

Wisconsin

and

Oregon

that were easy to navigate and had good information for consumers.

I was able to easily click through to information about incentives for installing

home solar voltaic systems

in New York and a

TheStreet Recommends

leasing program

intended to make solar-powered electricity affordable in Connecticut. I found out how to get

cash back

for a new Energy Star-qualified water heater in Wisconsin. And links to a

host of incentives

for Oregonians for generating solar-powered hot water and electricity, and upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances, windows and other things.

Of course, some of the Web sites provide you with information, but not a lot of tools for interpreting it. For example, New York's Power Naturally site lists the incentives that residents can receive for installing home-based wind turbines of different sizes, but no guidance on how to tell which one is appropriate in a given situation.

And it would be handy for Ct. Clean Energy to provide a calculator to help you determine how much money, if any, you would save on electricity by leasing a solar voltaic system. You're left to do the back-of-a-napkin estimates on your own.

But it's still a good place to start. If your state doesn't yet have helpful programs, you can link to the Department of Energy's Web site and find out about federal

tax credits

for energy-efficiency improvements and solar energy.

And if you aren't sure what your state offers, check out the

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency

.

It's worth spending a few minutes on these Web sites if you bought any appliances, purchased a new, energy-efficient home or made any major energy-conserving improvements on your house in the past year, or if you plan to this year.

You could wind up benefiting from federal and state tax breaks and direct rebates that are not always well-publicized but that will put some green in your pocket in exchange for putting some greener fixtures in your home. And who can't use more greenbacks these days?

Eileen P. Gunn writes about the business of life and is the author of "Your Career Is An Extreme Sport." You can learn more about her at

her Web site.