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3 Ways to Have the Government Pay You Back for Your Energy Efficient Upgrades

 by Ruth Schneider   Posted on December 9 2013

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Any renovations or upgrades made to your home this year that included energy-efficient appliances could be eligible for some federal energy tax credits. But it's not just appliances. If you installed more energy efficient windows or doors this year, you could also be eligible. New solar panels? That's covered, too. So is new insulation.

But one of them expires at the end of the year, so you need to act soon to take advantage. The tax credits can help offset the cost of keeping your home warm this winter.

The Energy Star label can be a bit confusing. Energy Star appliances do reduce bills, but often cost more at the outset than their power-gobbling counterparts. Not all Energy Star appliances are eligible for tax credits -- you do see immediate benefits in reduced energy consumption on your monthly bills.

The IRS provides a handful of tax credits to homeowners -- money that is either deducted from what you owe at the end of the year or tacked on to your refund. If you installed an energy-efficient appliance in 2013, you might be eligible to claim it when you file in early 2014.

Here's what you need to know:

  1. There is a 10% credit on certain product categories including biomass stoves, HVAC appliances, insulation, roofs, water heaters, windows and doors. The credit expires on Dec. 31, 2013. It allows for a credit of up to 10% of the cost of the product up to $500. The credit is only open to homeowners on their primary residence, no new construction or rentals.
  2. Geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines and solar energy installations are eligible for 30% tax credits with no upper limit. This tax credit you do have some time to take advantage of -- it doesn?t expire until the end of 2016. This credit is for homeowners in both primary and secondary residences, but it is not available for folks in rentals.
  3. Homeowners who installed fuel cell or microturbine systems are eligible for a 30% tax credit, up to $500, per 0.5 kW of power capacity. This tax credit is available through the end of 2016 and only applies to homeowners in primary residences, not second homes or rentals.

The Energy Star website has more information about which specific forms to fill out.

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