Ben TaubBy Ken Edelstein

The bad news? Climate change is more of a sure thing than ever, yet politicians still are arguing about whether to do anything about it.

The good news? It’s easier – and less expensive – than ever to do something about it on your own. Between improved technology, state tax credits and federal stimulus money, the cost of making the average Georgia family’s biggest energy guzzler – your home – less of a polluter has dropped dramatically.

Atlanta’s long been a hothouse for green housing, thanks to the Southface Energy Institute, which pushed efficiency and clean energy since the 1970s. For more than a decade, Southface has been administering the popular Earthcraft Home certification program.

But a more recent program has changed the game for Georgians who want to reduce their home energy use. In 2008, the Legislature approved property tax credit for homeowners who add solar water heating, solar electricity or geothermal power systems (the program covers even more projects for businesses).

Last year, the state’s $2.5 million tax credit fund didn’t even get used up. This year, it’s so popular that almost half of it’s been spent already.

“I think it’s a combination of some of the popularity of doing renewables and efficiency, and the economy getting better,” says Ben Taube, executive director of the Southeast Energy Alliance.

At the federal level, it didn’t hurt that the president’s stimulus plan converted a 30 percent income tax credit for homeowners’ clean energy projects into a straight grant.

Is it time then to install a clean energy project in your home? Maybe. Then, again it looks as it the government may make clean energy projects even more attractive: Congress is now discussing the administration proposal for a “HomeStar” program that would offer even more incentives to do the right thing.

Find out more online at And check out for up-to-the-minute environmental news and information about Atlanta.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.