There’s Money Out There to Upgrade Your Home

As we head into Q4 2009 you might want to look at if you need to get some tax credits on your 2009 tax returns.   ENERGY STAR appliances, spray foam insulation, ENERGY STAR windows, metal roofs, and more, there are opportunites for you to use the government’s money to upgrade your home this year.

What is a tax credit? You don’t receive an income tax credit when you buy the product, like an instant rebate. You claim the credit on your federal income tax form at the end of the year. The credit then increases the tax refund you receive or decreases the amount you have to pay.

Tax credits vs. tax deductions: In general, a tax credit is more valuable than a similar tax deduction. A tax credit reduces the tax you pay, dollar-for-dollar. Tax deductions – such as those for home mortgages and charitable giving – lower your taxable income. If you are in the highest 35-percent tax bracket, the income tax you pay is reduced by 35 percent of the value of a tax deduction. But a tax credit reduces your federal income tax by 100 percent of the amount of the credit.

This list is for any product INSTALLED in 2009 will be eligible for your 2009 return. Our list is for deductions for Rhode Island and Federal taxes. To find out about rebates in your state, check out the DSIRE website. The ENERGY STAR website also provides great information about Federal rebates. Continue after the jump to get a list of state and federal tax credits. 

Rhode Island Tax Credits

Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaic, Wind, Geothermal Heat Pumps :    Amount: 25% of installed cost including labor and materials

Renewable Energy Sales Tax Exemption:  Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Photovoltaic, Wind, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar Pool Heating:    100% Exemption

Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards:    Credit amount is based on the product. Proper manufacturer certification will be needed to claim this credit

Local Option – Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy Systems for Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaic, Wind, Biomass, Small Hydroelectric

Federal Tax Credits – visit the ENERGY STAR website for qualifying factors for each credit

Windows & Doors :  10% of cost, up to $200 for all windows, skylights, and storm windows and  10% of cost, up to $500 for exterior and storm doors

Roofing: 10% of cost, up to $500 for metal and asphalt roofs

Insulation: 10% of cost, up to $5000

HVAC:  $300 for Central AC, $300 for Air Source Heat Pumps, $150 for Gas, Oil, Propane Furnace or Hot Water Boiler

Geothermal System: Geothermal (or ground-source) heat pumps placed in service starting in 2009 are now eligible for a tax credit for 30 percent of the cost, with no maximum. These credits are effective through December 21, 2016. In order to be eligible for the tax credit, geothermal heat pumps must meet Energy Star criteria.

Water Heaters:  $300 for gas, oil, propane water heater

Biomass Stoves: $300

Solar Energy Systems:  30% of the cost up to $2,000 for solar water heating,   30% of the cost for photovoltaic systems ($2,000 cap no longer applies)

Small Wind Energy Systems:  30% of the cost, up to $500 per half kW of capacity (not to exceed $4,000)

Fuel Cells:  30% of the cost, up to $1,500 per half kW of power capacity

For our house project this is the list of tax credits we will be able to apply to our 2009 taxes:

1. Windows/Doors: $200 for our Pella Windows and $500 for our doors = $700

2. Our DaVinci composite slate roof = $500

3. Our spray foam insulation from Atlas = $500

4. Our Geothermal Heat and AC System = $1750 state (max) and approximately 30% of our cost which looks to be totalling around $100k, so that is $33k in tax credits we get to apply in coming years.

5. We get $500 for an ENERGY STAR appliance.

Considering we owe on our taxes annually this is a significant benefit to us. There’s money on the table for everyone right now, and you still have three months to have systems and products installed, so take advantage!

 Posted by: KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster

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Get the Greenest lawn in the Neighborhood

solar-powered_lawnmower

Husqvarna's Solar Powered Lawn Mower

Time to buy a new lawn mower? How about trying out a hybrid mower? Or even better and electric or battery operated one? Maybe Dad needs one, it would be a great belated fathers day gift. I got my weekly email from MNN and they have the inside scoop on some possible future lawn mower tax breaks. If you can hold out on buying one, you may get 25% back on your taxes if you purchase a low or no emissions lawn mower. Its all a part of the Greener Gardens Act put together by three congressional delegates from Vermont.
googlegoatsOr you can do one better and hire goats like Google. Yep, Google doesn’t pay landscapers to trim their grass, they rent goats from California Grazingto come in and have a little snack at their Mountain View Headquarters. It takes 200 goats, one border collie named Jen and one week to finish the job, but the benefits out weigh how long it takes; The goats fertilize as well as “mow”, they are quoted as being “much cuter to watch” than landscapers and lawnmowers, its GREAT for the environment and it costs the same if not less to rent goats instead of hiring a lawn mower.
And don’t forget, if you need to fertilize your lawn don’t go out and buy expensive chemicals to sprinkle all over your yard, start your own compost pile and make your own super healthy soil to feed your grass.
Cheers to keeping lawns super green!

Posted by: Ashley (intern)

Who is Getting the Green Money

I’m sure a lot of us have been wondering what part of this $787.2 billion dollar stimulus plan will be going towards green initiatives and incentives. Propublica.org did all the hard work and put together two pretty detailed lists of where the all that money is going (there is a spending list and a tax list), so I went through and plucked out the “green areas” to make it a bit easier..

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $6,000,000
  • Department of Energy: $15,000,000
  • Environmental Protection Agency: $20,000,000
  • Department of Transportation: $20,000,000
  • Energy all together is getting about $42 billion, check out the list for a detailed breakdown. Little Rhody is getting about $59 million to work on energy issues (did you know the we use the least energy per person, and pay the most out of any state?) To find out how much your state is getting towards energy check here and scroll untill you see the map.
  • Small Business Administration salaries and expenses, microloan program and improvements to technology systems: $69,000,000 (improvements to technology can mean higher energy efficiency)
  • Non-Defense environmental cleanup: $483,000,000
  • Defense Environmental cleanup: $5,127,000,000
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintenance and construction on wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries and for habitat restoration: $165,000,000
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service roads, bridges and facilities, including energy efficient retrofits: $115,000,000
  • Public transportation discretionary grants: $100,000,000 
  • Grants and loans for green investment in section 8 properties: $250,000,000
  • Advanced Energy Investment Credit: $1,647,000,000
  • Renewable Energy Tax Credits: $19,968,000,000 (for a further break down click here)

There are a lot of sites trying to break down the Stimulus plan and they aren’t all exactly the same. From what I can see there is more money being spent on things like highways than on saving the planet, but hey who needs a planet if you can’t drive on a 14 lane highway?

Go Green Get Green

Thanks to our shiny new president now is the best time to upgrade to green! Because the new stimulus package wiggled some tax rules around, the switch to energy efficiency is now even more forgiving on your wallet. Scott Cooney at redgreenandblue.org spelled the benefits out for us.

First, the tax credit for energy efficient upgrades went up from 10% of the cost to 30%. Then we have an increase in the maximum tax credit you can recieve, it went from $500 to $1500. If you spend a whole bunch of money on something big like solar panels, then you can get more than $1500 back. And the $200 credit cap on efficient windows has gone up as well as the standards to get the credit. Some people might mope about having to put in the extra bucks for the better windows, but we wouldnt want anybody getting money for iffy upgrades, we want it to be worth it! So I actually approve of the more strict window rules. And for all the small businesses you can get a loan for construction work that ups your efficiency, or Energy Star appliances from the Small Business Association.

So not only does upgrading pay itself off in the long run, but now youre getting bigger tax breaks. After a certain point, you’re getting paid to do it. So I don’t want to hear its too expensive. Just do it.

Published by: Ashley (intern)

Home Energy Tax Credits – How You Can Benefit

Congress has now passed a total of 2 bailout bills in less than six months and in both pieces of legislation are a suite of tax incentives for homeowners and consumers interested in energy efficiency and using renewable energy sources in their homes and cars.  President Obama’s latest stimulus plan extended many of the tax credits and abolished caps on some of the incentives.

So what can consumers take advantage of in these new bills?

Energy Effiency

On next year’s tax return, you can claim a home tax credit for any improvements made to your home’s energy efficiency, specifically if you installed new insulation, energy-efficient windows or an energy-efficient furnace, boiler or air conditioner. Originally this tax credit was for $500 and expired in 2007 but has been renewed and now extends up to $1,500.  The bill also extended the amount of coverage per project by 10%, making it a woping 30% under new law.  So do $5,000 of work and receive a $1,500 tax credit AND reap all the energy savings. 

Home Energy Credit for Geothermal, Solar, Wind

The current bill also removed the $2,000 cap that had been placed on geothermal heat pumps, leaving in place the 30% tax rebate on qualified solar energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines, and fuel cell systems.

Geothermal heat systems (look for more info on how GLSL is incorporating this into the house project in an upcoming post!) use the constant temperature in the ground (between 50-60 degrees year-round)  to cool air or water in the summer, and heat it in the winter — both of which reduce the cost of heating or cooling year round.

In addition, the solar energy tax credit is now good through 2016.

Plug-In Hybrid Cars

The stimulus bill laid out specific plans for tax rebates for the first brave adopters of plug-in hybrid vehicles.  The first 200,000 buyers of each plug-in hybrid from each manufacturer will now qualifty for a $7,500 tax rebate.  (Hmm, maybe time to trade in my Civic?)  Prior to the bailout bill, the tax credit had been capped at $3,500.

Improving your home’s (and your life) energy efficiency can not only save you dollars in heating and electric bills but can also give you a nice little check from the government. 

via The Daily Green

Posted by: Ashley (not the intern) / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

Tax Credits and Money Back for Buying “Green” Goods in 2009

In addition to the health and environmental benefits of living in a green home, there are tax credits. rebates, incentives and other breaks for adding eco-friendly products to your life. The $500 tax credit that came out of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 included, extended and/or amended many consumer tax incentives originally introduced in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  This is a biggie for consumers because many of us will be faced with replacing something in this category next year; so save that Home Depot receipt because this will end up as a dollar-for-dollar reduction on your 2009 taxes if you itemize.

  • The U.S. government is offering consumers who purchase and install specific products, such as energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment in the home can receive a tax credit of up to $500 for improvements “placed in service” starting January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009. The U.S. government’s ENERGY STAR® site connects consumers, home builders and others to federal tax credits for using energy-efficient products.
  • DSIRE, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, connects homeowners to local, state, federal and utility incentives available for switching to renewable or efficient energy use. I found that Rhode Island offers a personal tax credit for photovoltaic systems (on-grid and off-grid), solar hot-water systems, active solar-heating systems, wind-energy systems and geothermal-energy systems. The tax credit is equal to 25% (or up to $15k) of the system cost for residential installations. Cha-ching!
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency links to many of the sources of funding for green building that are available nationally and at the state and local levels for homeowners, industry, government organizations and nonprofits in the form of grants, tax credits, loans and other sources.
  • Contractors receive a credit for constructing energy-efficient new homes that achieve a 30% or 50% reduction in heating and cooling energy consumption relative to a comparable dwelling. More information and additional tax breaks from the Department of Energy can be found here. The credit equals $1,000 for homes meeting a 30% efficiency standard, and $2,000 for homes meeting a 50% standard and is available through Dec. 31, 2009. This means our builder is getting $2000 in tax credits!
  • Though a little clunky to use, and you have to have an idea of what you are looking for, patience or in my case an intern, homeowners and builders can find local incentives for building a LEED home at the USGBC’s public policy searchable database

Check back with us on this story, we haven’t bought everything yet so it is too early to project our total and actual tax credits, rebates and overall savings but I intend to update this with projections and actual as we move along.

KDL  | follow my quick project updates and green news on Twitter: newscaster