Without the energy saving measures taken after the 1973 energy crisis, the US would use nearly 50% more energy today. Now President Obama has pledged to cut 15% of all energy used by the Federal Government, the world's largest consumer. What if we all committed to cutting our consumption by 15% over the next 2 years?
You can start small by taking advantage of the checklist in our Homeowner Energy Report. You can also take advantage of the new home improvement tax credits for consumers available through 2010, to make improvements to your home that will increase it's resale value and save you energy costs month after month.
Here's a quick summary of the energy tax credit rules (details on the EnergyStar website).
- Improvements must be placed in service between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.
- Improvements must be made to your (taxpayer) principal residence. Builders of new homes have different tax credits.
- Maximum tax credit is $1,500, for 2 years (2008 and 2009). You have 18 months to plan, save and leverage this program.
- Tax credit equal to 30% of product (not installation) costs where it used to be 15%.
- You must have Manufacturer Certification Statement and receipts to qualify. The Energy Star web site states “Taxpayers must keep a copy of the certification statement for their records, but do not have to submit a copy with their tax return.”
Here are the Energy Efficiency Improvements you can make through end of 2010:
- Insulation – primary purpose must be insulation, i.e. insulated siding doesn't qualify. Many states also offer additional incentives with Home Performance with Energy Star.
- Exterior Windows, Skylights, Doors and Storm Windows and Doors – but check carefully as not all qualify (see table on Energy Star web site, right column).
- Roofing – includes all Energy Star qualified metal roofs plus reflective asphalt shingles.
- Central A/C- should be properly sized, and check for supporting documentation.
- Furnaces – there are oil, natural gas and propane eligible furnaces but make sure you're picking a model that is eligible for the tax credits.
- Air Source Heat Pumps – learn more about these systems that deliver one-and-a-half to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy they consume.
- Water Heaters – there are select models of natural gas, propane, oil and electric hot water heaters that qualify. New tankless hot water heaters save energy by heating water only when needed, eliminating energy lost during standby operation.
More novel Renewable Energy Improvements are eligible for 30% of the total cost (no cap), and can be added to your home up to December 2016.
- Solar Water Heating – but only the solar water heating system, not the entire water heating system throughout the house.
- Photovoltaic Systems – provide clean, reliable and affordable solar electricity for homes. Learn more about the different products they can be included in like these roof shingles that generate electricity.
- Residential Wind Turbines – provide another means for home owners to save energy, and there is lots of reading material available like the American Wind Association FAQs.
Note: Many of these newer products are evolving rapidly, i.e. earlier this year I learned that eligible tankless water heaters would not be available until the 2nd half of 2009. If you are researching one, look for the following button to stay abreast of news that might benefit you.