As a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (see our roundup of ways to take advantage), 2009 and 2010 are good years to make some of the “green” home improvements you may’ve been considering. I’ve had a little trouble, however, navigating and understanding the many tables and footnotes, so I’m condensing the basics here for our mutual benefit.
Tax Credits for Smaller Improvements
I’m sure we all wish we had geothermal energy and solar roofs and that we were selling our unused energy back to the electric company, but installing those things is still a huge initial investment. Here are the more likely things we can do in the meantime, and get a special benefit when it comes time to do our taxes, not to mention saving money on monthly electricity bills.
Get back 30% of the cost of any of the following. You can implement any combination of this list, but your total tax credit won’t exceed $1,500. Also noteworthy: these don’t apply to building a new house (there are separate tax credits for new home builders as well as commercial buildings and cars).
- Exterior Windows
- Storm Windows
- Exterior Doors
- Storm Doors
- Roofs (metal or asphalt)
- Insulation – Includes seals to limit air infiltration, such as caulk, weather stripping, and foam sealants
- Central A/C
- Air Source Heat Pumps
- Furnace (Natural Gas, Propane or Oil)
- Hot Water Boiler (Gas, Propane, or Oil)
- Advanced Main Air Circulating Fan
- Water Heater (Gas, Oil, Propane, or Electric Heat Pump)
- Biomass Stove
Be Prepared and Pay for the Right Things
Don’t get caught without the right equipment or paperwork. Here’s what you need to do in order to benefit for the next two tax seasons.
- Equipment must be able to last for at least five years – a two-year warranty is sufficient to prove this.
- Not every equipment model qualifies – and if it was placed in service before Feb. 17 2009, the qualifications are different. Click an option in the list above for more.
- Save your receipts and warranty
- Improvements made in 2009 will be claimed on your 2009 taxes (filed by April 15, 2010) — use IRS Tax Form 5695 (2009 version) — it will be available late 2009 or early 2010