WASHINGTON, D.C. - Do-it-yourselfers, now is the time to take on those end-of-the-year home improvement projects. Several federal tax credits expire December 31.
Those credits include items like:
The tax credit is 10 percent of the cost of qualifying energy efficient home improvements up to $500. Those improvements may cost you more up-front, but the tax credits will help off-set some of that. You'll recoup more of the cost over time because of the savings you'll see in your energy bills.
1. HVAC Systems : Heating and cooling account for more than half the energy used in a typical home. If your heating or cooling unit is more than 10 years old, and you have had substantial repair costs, it may be a good time to think about replacing.
2. Insulation: A home should we well-insulated, from the roof to its foundation. If not, it could easily lose nearly half of its heating and cooling energy. How to tell if you need insulation? Look in your attic for exposed 2-by-4's. For the walls, find a spot, preferably in the closet where it's not seen, and make a small puncture hole with a wire. You should feel resistance and insulation. It's a good idea to have an energy audit done to determine areas in need of insulation.
3. Water Heaters: Water heating can account for up to a quarter of the energy consumed in your home. Maintained properly, water heaters will last for years and deliver gallon after gallon of hot water. But if your water heater is more than ten years old, it's probably operating at less than 50 percent of its efficiency.
4. Roofing: Industry experts say qualified roof products reflect more of the sun's rays; lowering the roof surface temperature by up to 100F, thus decreasing the amount of heat transferred you're your home. Curling, crackling and blistering of the shingles and/or a leaky roof are indicators that you need a new roof.
5. Windows: By replacing your windows you can expect a return on your investment of at least 80 percent. If you notice condensation and drafts on and around your windows, or rotting or warping frames, you might be in need of an upgrade.
6. Doors: The front door is a great way to increase curb appeal, and today's styles are more energy efficient. If your door is 15 years or older, splitting, or cracking - then it's likely time to replace.
7. Biomass Stoves: Biomass stoves burn renewable sources to heat a home or heat water. The stoves burn pellets made from wood, corn, straw and other agricultural resources. Many new stoves come with EPA-approved standards that burn off most of the polluting gasses and increase your stove's efficiency by as much as 10 percent.
As always, it pays to do your research.
"Consumers need to be in the driver's seat when they are shopping because not every product is going to qualify for the tax credit," says Angie Hicks of Angie's List . "Don't rely solely on the company doing the installation - also check with your tax consultant."
A great place to start online is through Energy Star .
And once you've made your purchase, remember to save the receipts and signed statement from the manufacturer certifying the product qualifies for the tax credit. You'll need when you file your returns.
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