Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

Home Improvement Tax Credit

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As April 15 bears down, you might be able to save a little “scratch” if your 2011 home improvements fell within the narrow parameters outlined by the Internal Revenue Service.

Here are five ways to size up your chances of claiming tax credits. If you’re lucky, you could recoup up to $500 of the cost of making certain types of energy-efficient improvements.

1. Did you make your house “tighter” in 2011? Improvements like adding insulation, energy-efficient windows, exterior doors and some forms of roofing materials, may qualify you for credit. This applies to your primary residence only; vacation and investment property improvements do not qualify.

2. Were the improvements part of a retrofit or rehab? There are no credits for building a new house with energy-efficient elements, but there are for improvements made in a retrofit or rehab. Check to see if yours apply.

3. Have you hit the limit? If you received $500 in energy tax credits in prior years, you’ve already hit the lifetime cap. If not, and you spent enough on approved windows, doors and roofing last year, you may be eligible for the 2011 rebate. Installation costs don’t count.

4. Do installation costs ever count? If you installed certain types of high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and biomass-burning stoves (that would be wood-burning stoves to the rest of us), installation costs do factor in.

5. Can you prove it? When it comes to energy tax credits, it’s all about the receipts and buying materials that qualify to begin with. Lost the packaging with those important details? You can probably pull the credentials from the manufacturer’s website.

Still think you stand a chance of getting back some dough? Dig into the gory details of IRS Form 5695.

Tee up another round of home improvement tax credit by looking into the qualifiers for installing alternative energy equipment. If you complete your project by the end of 2016, you might be able to recoup 30% of the total cost, including installation.

For more on energy efficiency, consider:

Shopping for Energy-Efficient Windows
5 Ways to Save H20 at Home
Insulation 101