Tax benefits increase for energy-efficient home improvements

Homeowners looking to save money on heating and cooling costs with energy-efficient improvements can benefit from a newly expanded federal tax credit.

In the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Obama, previous energy-efficiency credits were significantly improved. Before, homeowners could recoup 10 percent of the cost of each approved energy upgrade with the lifetime cap of $500. The new credit has tripled those amounts to 30 percent and $1,500.

According to Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical household spends about $2,000 a year on energy bills. By incorporating Energy Star appliances and other energy-efficient components to your home, homeowners can save about a third on their energy bill. The expanded tax credit money available to homeowners on top of these savings is icing on the cake.

"This is an excellent time for homeowners to take advantage of these tax benefits to make positive changes in their home that will not only benefit them immediately, but over the long term as well," said Eric Borsting, a California home builder and chair of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) green building subcommittee.

Tax credits are available at 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500, in 2009 and 2010 (for existing homes only) for:

- Windows and doors

- Insulation

- Roofs (metal and asphalt)

- HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning)

- Water heaters (non-solar)

- Biomass stoves

Tax credits are available at 30 percent of the cost, with no upper limit through 2016 (for existing homes & new construction) for:

- Geothermal heat pumps

- Solar panels

- Solar water heaters

- Small wind energy systems

- Fuel cells

Details on qualifying improvements are available on the Energy Star Web site at www.energystar.gov/taxcred

its.

To find a builder or remodeler in your area to help make your home more energy-efficient, contact your local home builders association at www.bawn.org or call 775-882-4353. The Builders Association of Western Nevada has a Remodeler's Council (BAWNR) and you may search the members of that council on the Web page.

- Rick DeMar is CEO of the Builders Association of Western Nevada.

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