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Tax-free holiday helps conserve water, energy

By April Sorrow
University of Georgia

Georgians will be able to purchase certain water- and energy-saving products without paying sales tax during the tax-free holiday Oct. 2 through Oct. 5.

“This is a great opportunity to save money on products that will help conserve some of our state’s natural resources,” said Pamela Turner, a housing specialist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

During the holiday, products with a WaterSense or ENERGY STAR label purchased for noncommercial or personal use will be state and local sales tax free. Specific faucets, toilets, refrigerators and dishwashers, light bulbs and air conditioners are on the list. Online purchases delivered to Georgia addresses are eligible for the sales tax exemption, too.

WaterSense

WaterSense-labeled products can add up to real savings. “If one out of every four Georgia households would use WaterSense-labeled bathroom fixtures it could save nearly 10 billion gallons of water a year,” she said.

Toilets with the WaterSense label use 20 percent less water than the current federal standard for toilets. The faucets and accessories reduce water flow by 30 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. All products must meet EPA criteria before earning the WaterSense label.

ENERGY STAR

A broad range of products marked with the ENERGY STAR logo will be tax-free. Specifically, though, the exemption applies to dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, compact fluorescent light bulbs, dehumidifiers, programmable thermostats, refrigerators, doors and windows.

Products must be less than $1,500 and purchased for personal use.

An ENERGY STAR refrigerator uses less electricity than a 75-watt light bulb. When compared to a refrigerator made before 1993, according to the EPA, it can save up to $60 a year on energy.

To earn the ENERGY STAR rating, a refrigerator must be at least 20 percent more efficient than the national standard. Dishwashers must be 25 percent more efficient. Washing machines with the rating save enough water to wash an additional 300 loads of laundry and save up to $55 a year in energy costs.

Replacing standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones saves energy, too. Compact fluorescent bulbs use 68 percent less energy than a standard bulb and last 10 times longer, according to the EPA.

To learn more about ENERGY STAR go to the Web site www.energystar.gov. To learn more about WaterSense go to www.epa.gov/watersense.

Some Georgia counties offer rebates for high-efficiency toilets. For a list of counties that do go to www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/find_rebate.htm.

(April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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