Energy-saving home scheme picks up steam

Relaxed terms for applicants who want to take advantage of the ?Save at Home? (Exikonomisi kat?ikon) subsidy scheme launched by the Environment Ministry, together with the tax breaks it provides, appear to have encouraged Greek homeowners to push ahead with renovations to their properties to make them more energy efficient, such as installing insulation, replacing old boilers with new ones and putting in double-glazed aluminium windows and fortified doors.

Launched in 2010, the program offers homeowners who want to make energy-efficient alterations to their property the option of taking out a loan with subsidized interest, direct subsidies of up to 30 percent of the total cost of the renovation or a 100 percent subsidy on the cost of an energy inspection, which is discounted from taxable income by up to 2,500 euros.

According to recent statements by Deputy Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis, so far the ministry has issued 20,500 approvals for entry to the scheme and 15,000 certificates of energy efficiency from the first round of inspections. More than 12,000 homeowners have benefited from the scheme, at a total cost of 79 million euros, and of them, 4,728 have taken out subsidized loans. Of the 12,000 approved applicants, 1,962 have already received down payments of 5.5 million euros in total.

Nevertheless, there is no shortage of red tape in the process, and the application process as well as the disbursement of the subsidy can take longer than anticipated. Moreover, as the Finance Ministry announced in a recent circular, taxpayers who are involved in the program need to supply authorities with six separate certificates from the bank at which they secured their loan and to include these with their tax return if they want to benefit from the tax break.

The tax discount is for 10 percent of the cost of participating in the program, as long as this does not exceed 3,000 euros.

The forms required are a certificate of expenditure, complete with the details of the person to benefit from the investment, the total amount for which documents were submitted, the details of the issuing authority, the number and the date of the receipt for the service and the receipt for the retail sale (or invoice) bearing the sum spent for the energy-efficiency upgrade, the sum subsidized by the ?Save at Home? program, the end amount the taxpayer or beneficiary of the program will pay and a certificate confirming that the expenditure is strictly according to the relevant regulation.

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