Planet Earth can be saved if we all throw out our 2-10-year-old appliances that are in perfect working condition. That’s the Science according to the New York Times… “The Climate Fight Will Be Won in the Appliance Aisle” (Oct 1, 2023):
Two of these [Inflation Reduction Act] programs are tax credits meant to give Americans a tax discount when they install a new rooftop solar system, a geothermal-powered heater, a heat pump or another technology that reduces demand for carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Unlike other tax credits in the law, these programs have no income cap, so they can be used by wealthy Americans who can presumably afford to pay upfront to install residential equipment like a water heater. But like other new tax credits in the law, they require Americans to have some federal tax liability in the first place. If you owe nothing on your taxes, then you can’t get a discount.
The I.R.A. introduced a pair of rebate programs meant to help working- and middle-class Americans afford to upgrade appliances and other features of their homes. These two programs, known as HOMES and HEEHRA, are important. When it’s finally put in place, HEEHRA will lower the cost of heat pumps and other climate-friendly appliances at the point of sale, making them more affordable to consumers, including those who are not even aware of the policy. More than perhaps any other programs in the law, these rebates are meant to allow low-income Americans to reduce their monthly energy costs. And because they involve direct cash grants, using the rebates will not require oweing any taxes to the federal government. That is huge for retirees and Social Security recipients, many of whom have no earned income and little to no federal tax liability.
The climate fight might be waged in the streets. But it will be won in the appliance aisle.
It is, of course, wonderful that working-class renters must pay for the new high-end air conditioning systems enjoyed by elite homeowners. But I’m confused as to how this can save the planet. If people throw out working appliances and buy new ones, which have to be manufactured, shipped, and installed, won’t that actually increase CO2 emissions? If so, should we consider New York sustainability expert William Lauder to be the greatest environmentalist of the moment? He pushed a 6-year-old house into a landfill:
The new house, presumably, will include higher-efficiency Sub-Zero refrigerators with R600a refrigerant. Our planet, then, began to heal when the excavators started work on this obsolete 6-year-old 36,000-square-foot house.