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Climate change is causing the Arctic to heat up extremely quickly. New research published today finds the Arctic Circle is warming nearly four times faster than Earth as a whole, a lot faster than scientists previously thought.
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It's yet another reminder that humans must dramatically reduce greenhouse gases to avoid even more destructive climate change. Money in the Inflation Reduction Act could help you - yes, you - contribute to that goal - that is, if it passes the House, as it's expected to. NPR's Laura Benshoff explains how the bill would make it cheaper for more Americans to cut their climate-warming emissions.
LAURA BENSHOFF, BYLINE: Most of the Inflation Reduction Act's climate benefits would come from changes that are just too big for individuals to make, like building more wind farms. But Jamal Lewis with the electrification nonprofit Rewiring America says it would help with things we can control.
JAMAL LEWIS: Household decisions that you and I make on the machines that we choose to cook our food, heat and cool our homes and get us from place to place.
BENSHOFF: He says replacing an old appliance is an opportunity. It's a chance to lower home energy costs and carbon pollution by switching to a more energy-efficient model. The Inflation Reduction Act would set aside billions of dollars for appliance rebate programs so that switching is a better deal. For example, if you replace your old furnace with a heat pump, you could get up to $8,000 off the sticker price. Lewis says these discounts are designed to put the technology within reach of more people, especially lower- and middle-income households.
LEWIS: The rebate actually means just a discount that reduces the point of sale cost.
BENSHOFF: There's also money to retrofit homes so they waste less energy, says Lowell Ungar with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
LOWELL UNGAR: It may be air sealing because there are drafts coming in. It may be that more insulation is needed in the attic.
BENSHOFF: And there's money to start capturing your own renewable energy. President of the Solar Energy Industries Association Abigail Ross Hopper says the bill's more than 10-year tax credits for residential solar and energy storage are a game-changer.
ABIGAIL ROSS HOPPER: It really strengthens the grid for everybody. So even though one individual homeowner made a decision to invest in a solar storage system, their neighbors are going to benefit.
BENSHOFF: One drawback is that you have to own your home. There is money in the act to encourage retrofits of rental properties, but they tend to need a developer or a landlord to be involved. Finally, there's your car. The bill's electric vehicle tax credit is a mixed bag. John Helveston, a professor at George Washington University, says part of the credit is only available for cars whose batteries are made from raw materials from the U.S. or its free-trade partners.
JOHN HELVESTON: That's tying the hands of automakers because some of those batteries' materials - they're just not available in North America yet.
BENSHOFF: That means the full amount - up to $7,500 for a new EV - might be unavailable. But Helveston says prospective buyers shouldn't despair because they should still be able to get some of that money. Laura Benshoff, NPR News.
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