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Sparks

The New Climate Laws’ Tax Credits for Homeowners Are Crazy Powerful

A new study in Energy Policy does the math.

A heat pump.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — better known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — are together filled with dozens of financial incentives to help regular Americans switch to clean technologies. The IRA, in particular, is the largest investment in confronting climate change the country has ever made. That work is happening, in no small part, on the (literal) home front.

A new study published in the journal Energy Policy authored by researchers from Vanderbilt University, shows that while only about 12% of climate and energy funds in the IRA and 5.7% in the BIL target voluntary household actions, they could leverage 40% of the cumulative emissions reductions under those laws.

That’s a big return on investment, and a rare sign that regular citizens might, after all, have some level of agency in helping solve a problem that can often feel beyond our grasp. The authors note that getting to that level of emissions reduction is perhaps easier said than done — navigating the process of figuring out eligibility for tax credits, determining cost savings, and actually contracting with local professionals to install all that clean tech is a pretty significant undertaking, and all those roadblocks could get in the way of that best case scenario. The authors’ estimate also accounts for all households in the country, whereas it’s much easier (and more appealing) for an owner of a single-family home to make those kinds of changes to their building than, say, a landlord who won’t see any direct benefits from improving a building they’ve rented out.

A lot of pain points, then. But still, in the face of a huge and abstract problem, knowing that individual actions do make a difference is no small thing.

Want to take advantage of some of these incentives? We’ve got you covered on at least a few of those fronts: my colleague Emily has written a guide to decarbonising your home with the IRA, and Robinson has a car buyer’s guide to the 2024 EV tax credit. That 40% emissions reduction goal will take a lot of individual investment; those guides (and more to come!) are good places to start.

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Neel Dhanesha profile image

Neel Dhanesha

Neel is a former founding staff writer at Heatmap. Prior to Heatmap, he was a science and climate reporter at Vox, an editorial fellow at Audubon magazine, and an assistant producer at Radiolab, where he helped produce The Other Latif, a series about one detainee's journey to Guantanamo Bay. He is a graduate of the Literary Reportage program at NYU, which helped him turn incoherent scribbles into readable stories, and he grew up (mostly) in Bangalore. He tweets sporadically at @neel_dhan.

Sparks

Nuclear Energy Is the One Thing Congress Can Agree On

Environmentalists, however, still aren’t sold on the ADVANCE Act.

A nuclear power plant.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While climate change policy is typically heavily polarized along party lines, nuclear energy policy is not. The ADVANCE Act, which would reform the nuclear regulatory policy to encourage the development of advanced nuclear reactors, passed the Senate today, by a vote of 88-2, preparing it for an almost certain presidential signature.

The bill has been floating around Congress for about a year and is the product of bipartisanship within the relevant committees, a notable departure from increasingly top-down legislating in Washington. The House of Representatives has its own nuclear regulatory bill, the Atomic Energy Advancement Act, which the House overwhelmingly voted for in February.

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Sparks

To Win a Climate Election, Don’t Say ‘Climate’

“High-paying jobs”? “Good for our economy”? “Powering our future”? Totally cool.

Money above solar panels.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Earlier this month, an odd little ad began appearing on TVs in Michigan. On first watch, it plays like any other political advertisement you’d see on television this time of year. In it, Michigan governor and Biden surrogate Gretchen Whitmer touts the high-paying electric vehicle manufacturing jobs that the Democratic administration has brought to her state. Watch the spot a few times, though, and it soon becomes clear what it’s missing.

Climate change.

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Dan Patrick.
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Load growth is becoming controversial in Texas, where its isolated, uniquely free market electricity system makes a sometimes awkward fit with the state’s distinctive right-wing politics. They crashed together Wednesday, when the state’s conservative Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who a few weeks ago was attending Donald Trump’s criminal trialin New York City, expressed skepticism of the state’s bitcoin mining industry and the prospect of more data centers coming to Texas.

Responding to “shocking” testimony from the head of ERCOT, which manages about 90% of Texas’s electricity grid, Patrick wrote on X, “We need to take a close look at those two industries [crypto and AI]. They produce very few jobs compared to the incredible demands they place on our grid. Crypto mining may actually make more money selling electricity back to the grid than from their crypto mining operations."

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