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Jon Knutson, Published September 06 2009

Energy rater helps homeowners qualify for federal tax breaks

If you’re building a new home and want it to be energy efficient, Joe Icenhour could be a good guy to know.

Icenhour is a certified energy rater. He verifies that homes seeking federal tax credits for being energy efficient qualify to receive the tax breaks.

“It can make a lot of sense to do this,” he said of the federal program.

Icenhour’s job – helping to reduce energy consumption in the home – is part of what’s generally considered the green economy.

Since completing a training course in 2007 in Ohio, he’s conducted an energy audit of 150 homes in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

Of that number, 114 qualified for the tax credit and possibly an Energy Star rating.

Fargo’s Paschke Heating & Air Conditioning, for which Icenhour works, receives $500 to $600 when he conducts an audit. The cost is paid by the homebuilder, who is eligible for a federal credit.

Paschke is one of 12 home energy verification partners in North Dakota listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site.

The list includes Cass County Electric Cooperative, with headquarters in Kindred, N.D., and service centers in Fargo, Valley City, Lisbon and Arthur.

Most of the 12 are based outside North Dakota and do little business in the state, according to the EPA Web site.

Icenhour is working with an estimated 30 homebuilders, about 25 in this area.

“The first year I did this, it was kind of hard to get guys to do this, to realize the tax credit,” he said.

Interest is growing now, though this region still lags many parts of the country in participating in the federal tax credit program, he said.

Icenhour makes sure that insulation, ducts, windows, heating and air conditioning equipment in a house combine to meet energy-efficiency standards.

Icenhour said he’s proud to be part of the growing effort to cut energy consumption and help the environment.

“It feels good when you’re part of that movement,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530