After weeks of wrangling and debate, Congress voted at midnight to approve energy-efficiency incentives that will give homeowners tax breaks on insulation, windows, air conditioners and other upgrades.
But the new incentives are not nearly as as generous as the ones in place now that are set to expire Dec. 31.
That means that homeowners have just two weeks to take advantage of the current incentives, if they can find a contractor or installer with available slots.
Here's how the differences stack up: The current incentives cover 30 percent of the cost of conservation upgrades, up to $1,500. These incentives were funded by the federal stimulus package.
The new incentives that go into effect Jan. 1 cover 10 percent, up to $500. These are similar to the pre-stimulus incentives that were available in 2006 and 2007.
The incentives were approved as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, the much-touted compromise between President Obama and Congressional Republicans that extends the Bush-era tax cuts and unemployment insurance, among other provisions.
Efficiency advocates were relieved Congress kept some incentives in place, but the Alliance to Save Energy in Washington said it was "sorely disappointed that Congress did not see fit to make the incentives more generous."