January 23, 2009
One of the few bright spots in the current financial crisis is that the government has reinstated federal tax credits for a variety of energy-efficient home improvements you make in 2009. They also extended deadlines for solar energy systems and fuel cell tax credits until 2016 and established new credits for small wind-energy systems and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
This means that you can not only take advantage of many products that are good for the environment, but also can save on energy expenses while lowering your tax bill. Here are a few highlights:
Home improvements. Tax credits are available for insulation, energy-efficient replacement windows, non-solar water heaters, and certain high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. These tax credits are not available for new home construction; however, new-housing credits are available for photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into electricity, as well as solar water heaters, small wind energy systems and fuel cells.
Energy-efficient cars. A new tax credit is now available for plug-in hybrid cars and trucks, ranging from $2,500 to $7,500, depending on battery capacity. And, credits are still available for certain models of hybrid gasoline-electric, diesel, battery-electric, alternative fuel and fuel-cell vehicles, depending on whether their manufacturers have yet sold the eligible number of vehicles. Go to http://fueleconomy.gov for more details.
The Energy Star Website, run by the U.S. Department of Energy, contains a comprehensive table showing which products qualify for the tax credits and where to go for more information (www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits).
Even if you can't afford a new roof or hybrid car, there are still plenty of ways you can significantly lower your energy bills. For example:
Scaling back your energy costs is a no-brainer in these penny-pinching times – not to mention being good for the environment.
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