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Water-, energy-efficiency tax holiday begins Thursday

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

A statewide tax holiday will soon give area residents an opportunity to save money on water- and energy-efficient products.

According to Gov. Sonny Perdue's office, Georgians will have the opportunity to buy ENERGY STAR-qualified and WaterSense-labeled products without paying state or local sales taxes for four days, beginning Thursday. The 2009 ENERGY STAR and WaterSense sales-tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, and runs through midnight Sunday.

The tax exemption will apply to purchases of ENERGY STAR or WaterSense products which cost $1,500 or less per item, according to the governor's office.

"Purchasing appliances and products with ENERGY STAR and WaterSense labels helps create a culture of conservation in our state," Perdue said in a statement. "The sales-tax holiday is a perfect opportunity for Georgians to save money at the cash register, and on their water and energy bills."

ENERGY STAR appliances and products eligible for the sales-tax exemption include dishwashers, clothes washers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, fluorescent light bulbs, dehumidifiers, programmable thermostats, refrigerators, doors, windows and skylights, according to the governor's office. ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances use 30 percent less energy than conventional models, Perdue's office said.

WaterSense-labeled products eligible for the sales-tax exemption include bathroom sink faucets and high-efficiency toilets. The WaterSense label recognizes major water-consuming products that are 20 percent more efficient and perform as well as, or better, than conventional models, Perdue's office said.

Tonja Halton-Mincey, an environmental specialist for the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority, said the tax holiday means savings for water customers.

"It's a win-win [situation] for the customers," she said. "You're saving on your tax bill as well as on your water bill."

Halton-Mincey said the tax holiday will also help the authority, a WaterSense promotional partner, in its efforts to educate the public on the need to conserve water.

"We promote water-efficient practices," Halton-Mincey said. "We always promote low-flow toilets and urinals, so this is a good time to buy them."

Deron Davis, WaterSmart director for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, endorsed the concept behind the tax holiday.

"WaterSense-labeled products are about 20 percent more efficient than conventional models," said Davis. "If one out of every four households in Georgia retrofits their bathrooms with WaterSense-labeled fixtures, it could save nearly 10 billion gallons of water per year."

The goal is not to discourage water use, he added, but to maximize the benefit from each gallon used.

This year's sales-tax holiday is a result of House Bill 120, which the governor signed into law in May.