The state of New York will provide $34 million of incentives to individuals and zero-net-energy homes (buildings which generate more energy than they consume). This works out to be $2,000 to $8,000 per household.
The Real Deal says that “A zero-net-energy building relies on, among other things, solar panels, insulation and geothermal heating and cooling systems to balance out energy consumption”. This is often the case. However, geothermal heating and cooling systems are not required for this (but they do offer great benefits).
There are multiple ways for buildings to attain zero-net-energy status, but there is a golden combination of energy-efficiency and on-site electricity generation that enables you to pull that off economically. The most economical way to achieve zero-net-energy status is to reduce energy consumption and then install a fuel-free generator such as solar panels. Why? For every watt of power that an appliance requires, 4 W (peak) of solar panels is required, or $4 to $12 of solar panels. For example: If you upgraded to a light bulb that uses 20 watts less (on average over the course of a 24-hour period), you would save $80 to $240 off the cost of the solar panels alone (after factoring in the capacity factor of solar panels). No light bulb costs anywhere near $80! Therefore this is a no-brainer.
Bear in mind that not all appliance upgrades will save you money. For example: A refrigerator upgrade could cost you over $1,000, and likely wouldn’t save enough money to justify the upgrade. So get the most out of that old refrigerator for now.
Source: The Real Deal