Get Tax Credits By Going Green At Home
It’s about time homeowners got an economic stimulus of their own. The economic downturn has affected many homeowners, but a new law called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act now is offering tax credits for energy efficient home improvements. This stimulus bill is enabling homeowners to add dollars back into their bank accounts, while reducing their families’ carbon footprints. What’s Covered What exactly is covered under the new stimulus bill can be confusing. Many are unsure which energy efficient upgrades qualify for tax credits. According to Andrew Goldberg, senior director of federal relations for the American Institute of Architects , homeowners should focus on three basic changes in policy to get started: * Tax credits for energy efficient home improvements that would have expired at the end of 2009 have been extended through 2010, allowing you more time to budget for upgrades. * Tax credits which previously covered up to 10 percent of costs have been increased to cover 30 percent of costs, with a maximum total of $1,500 in tax credits in 2009 and 2010. This applies to existing homes only and covers the following: renovations to windows and doors, insulation and roofs , heating, ventilation and air conditioning , non-solar water heaters and biomass stoves. Through 2016, tax credits also are available at 30 percent of the cost with no cap on the credit you can receive for geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar water heaters, small wind energy systems and fuel cells for both existing homes and new construction. * Most importantly, says Goldberg, is that the $1,500 cap for 2009 and 2010 now applies to any combination of energy efficient improvements. In the past, each renovation or appliance had an individual cap and together they could add up to a maximum of $1,500, but now homeowners are not limited item by item. While the maximum credit you can receive is still $1,500, you now can select a combination of improvements to reach that limit. How the Stimulus Helps The changes to the policy not only give you more autonomy in deciding how to create a more energy efficient home, but also allow you to approach home renovations from a more holistic perspective. Instead of looking at one room or one type of renovation, you can take a closer look at how the different rooms, systems and appliances in your house impact one another and contribute to energy savings or waste. “An architect can help you go from a piecemeal approach to a comprehensive one that creates integrated systems, and find the most energy savings for the least cost,” notes Goldberg. For example, investing in a new HVAC system may yield some energy savings, but if your house has poor insulation or windows and doors that allow for air loss, you won’t maximize the value of your improvement and energy efficient potential. An architect may recommend a new HVAC system in conjunction with inexpensive weatherstripping, or another customized combination of simple improvements that improve your energy savings within your budget. To find a local architect with expertise in sustainable design, visit: http://architectfinder.aia.org. While times are tough, the tax credits in the stimulus bill present the perfect opportunity to make smart investments in your home that will save you energy and ultimately dollars. Greener living is only a tax credit away.