Summer is one of the best times of the year to get motivated to make those energy efficiency upgrades on your to-do list, and the Department of Energy can point you to some incentives to make the initial investment more affordable. Energy-saving products will save you considerable money over the long term, helping these products pay for themselves and significantly reducing your monthly energy bills.
Homeowners ready to take advantage of the savings should check out the energy efficiency tax credits offered through the IRS and promoted by the Department of Energy. The incentive credits you up to $500 toward your income taxes for purchasing and installing eligible energy-efficient products or 30% of the cost of renewable energy systems. You still have time to select the money-saving consumer energy products that make the most sense for you, but act soon because the $500 home efficiency credits expire at the end of the year.
Some of the energy-saving household investments that qualify include high-efficiency central air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, and boilers that meet the standards listed on the website. An investment in efficiency products can start saving you considerable money over the long run and save you up to $500 on your 2011 taxes. The energy efficiency tax credits can also be applied to purchases of high-efficiency insulation, roofing, water heaters, and windows, and doors. Keep in mind that if you already took advantage of the credits in a previous year, you are limited to a total of $500 in energy efficiency tax credits from 2006-2011.
Renewable energy systems can also cut your energy bills and help you shrink your carbon footprint. The products eligible for these credits include solar and wind energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, and fuel cells. Check out that same website for more details. This incentive lets you credit 30% of the cost of the renewable energy systems against your tax liability and has no upper limit. It also doesn’t expire until the end of 2016. By using it to upgrade your home’s energy systems, this incentive could help you make your home the envy of other energy-conscious neighbors.
You can even combine the $500 energy efficiency credit with the limitless renewable energy systems credit. Just as many innovative builders of new homes are cost-effectively combining highly efficient building products with renewable energy systems, you can make your current home into a dream house that helps you reach your sustainability goals.
There are also tax credits available for qualified plug-in electric drive vehicles on the market. As with all of these products, research your purchase carefully and talk to a tax expert.
From state and local incentives to mortgages on high-efficiency homes, there are lots of other financial incentives available that help consumers get with the energy-saving program. And there’s no time like next weekend to kick off that summer project that will save you money for decades to come.
Eric Barendsen is a communications specialist and Presidential Management Fellow with EERE's Communications and Outreach office in Washington, D.C.