Tax season may be months away, but now is a great time to think about making energy efficiency improvements that will help you care for Ma’ Earth and get more back from the IRS. Ideal Bite’s Top Ways to Score a Tax Credit provide home and car efficiency upgrade incentives that help you get the most out of your tax return. Tic Tax Toe
Wanna get more from your return before you sign at the X? Strategy: Make the most of home and car efficiency upgrade incentives (some even run through 2016). O yeah.
See the light with solar energy systems like solar panels and water heaters. Pocket 30% of the cost of either with no limit if you installed them after 2008 (up to $2,000 back if you did it before 2008). You have ’til December 31, 2016 to cash in.
Gone With the Wind Power
Give these a spin: wind turbines. If you have the space in your yard (around 6 vertical feet), install one of these fanlike alt energy sources (one with 100 kilowatts or less) by end of 2016 to get your 30% payback.
Ain’t Nothing but a Geo Thang
Heat things up at home with a geothermal heat pump (that’s hot…). Most Americans can access geothermal heat where they live. You’ll be able to swoop up heat from the Earth’s core (seriously) and save 60% on heating bills, plus get 30% back on the cost of the pump if you installed it after 2009. It must meet specific standards of EER and COP (Coefficient of Performance) - check it out. Good ’til end of 2016.
Fuel Speed Ahead
Don’t expect Fuel Cell Vehicles until early 2010, but when they hit lots, you can get a tax break on one before December 31, 2016. FCs turn chems from fuel into low- or zero-emissions electrical energy (if you got a C in science, Mike breaks it down here). Get a 30% refund (up to $500 per 0.5 kilowatts of power capacity - minimum 0.5) as long as it has a 30% efficiency rating.
Get a tax credit of 30% of the cost, up to $1,500 for one or a combination of the following upgrades. One $1,500 credit max per household.
Not Too Shabby
Fix up your home with energy-efficient windows, doors, and/or skylights this year or next, and cash in on this break. Models must have a U-factor (measures insulation) and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (measures solar energy transferred and heat blocked) rating of 0.30 or less. Look for the Energy Star label at these retailers. Be sure your climate region’s highlighted - for example, windows that are energy efficient in TX might not be in MA; expires on December 31, 2010.
Install new central air-conditioning in 2009 or 2010 and snag that cool 30% off (up to $1,500). Your A/C must have less than 13 EER and 16 SEER (schmancy terms to determine efficiency - just ask the manufacturer or check the site) to get your moola. You can search Energy Star’s partner list for companies that install central air (see here) or search the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) site for manufacturers. Sound confusing? Energy Star made a little handy how-to guide to walk you through it.
Sword in the Stove
Skip the fireplace this freeze season and snuggle up to a biomass stove (used for heat and water heating). These stoves use organic materials - often industrial by-products like low-emission-burning wood pellets. Again, you’ll get the one-time 30% (up to $1,500 total) credit - if yours has a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75%. Just put one in before December 31, 2010, when the credit expires.
Cash on a Hot Tin Roof
Best bling for your house? Metal and reflective asphalt shingles. Line your roof to help keep your sun-scorched home cooler. Rake in your 30% (up to $1,500 off) - minus labor and installation. Times up at the end of 2010.
Water You Waiting For?
Watch your water bills sink: The gov will give the same 30% off tax break (in this case, even including installation) for two groups of efficient water heaters through 2010. One: gas, oil, and propane with an Energy Factor of 0.82 or thermal efficiency of at least 90%. Two: electric heat pumps with an Energy Factor of at least 2.0. Or, bulk up your wallet with 30% off solar water heater costs (again, including installation) with no limit through the end of 2016.
On a write-off roll? Find more home and biz eco incentives, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.