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Some common home improvement projects now come with an added incentive: a tax credit.

 

The money you save in heating and cooling costs by replacing drafty windows and doors, and insulating your home is often enough incentive to get these home projects crossed off your "to do" list. But with government tax incentives in place, there's no reason to put off these projects any longer.

A tax credit for 30 percent of the cost of energy efficient products--with a maximum credit of $1500--is available for energy efficient replacement windows, siding, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment purchased and installed in existing homes between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.

Not only can consumers get federal tax credits, but they may also be eligible for state tax incentives as well. Check with your state's energy office Web site for more information on tax breaks you can receive from your home state.

Here are some common home improvement projects that may be eligible for tax credits:

Replacement Windows, Doors, Skylights

All ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors and skylights qualify for the tax credit (except for doors in several counties in California). And you don't have to replace every single door, window or skylight in your home to qualify. Yes, these items are expensive--expect to pay about $10,000 to replace all the windows in an average house--but consider the fact that it could save you up to 10 percent in winter heating and summer cooling bills in addition to the tax credit of 30 percent of of the price tag of the replacement windows, doors and skylights, up to $1500 (the tax credit does not include installation costs).

Note that these products must have a U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of less than or equal to 0.30 (this data can be found on the National Fenestration Rating Council label). Make sure you ask the manufacturer about these requirements before you purchase.

Energy Efficient Roofing

Not any type of roofing material gives you the 30 percent tax credit of the cost of the roofing materials. The roof must either be metal with the right pigmented coatings or asphalt with appropriate cooling granules that also meet ENERGY STAR requirements.

The roofs that meet these qualifications are also known as reflective roofs and are best suited for hot, sunny climates since they lower the surface temperature of the roof by up to 100 degrees F, decreasing the need for cooling inside the house. Make sure that you check with the manufacturer of the roof first to get a Manufacturer's Certification Statement before installing the new roof to make sure it is eligible for the tax credit (note that not all ENERGY STAR roofs are eligible).

Insulation to Improve Heating and Cooling Costs

All types of bulk insulation products qualify, including rolls, blow-in fibers, rigid boards, expanding spray, and pour-in-place type insulation. If you do any sealing to reduce air leaks, such as weather stripping, caulking and house wraps, it can also qualify as long as the product comes with a Manufacturers Certification Statement.

Note that the tax credit does not cover the installation or labor costs for insulation, replacement windows, doors or roofs. If you use a contractor, make sure you ask that the bill is itemized first so that you can claim only the cost of the product for the tax credit.

Installation costs are covered in the tax credit for other energy efficient upgrades such as geothermal heat pumps, HVAC, biomass stoves, solar panels, solar water heaters, wind energy systems and fuel cells.

Improve Your Home and Your Mortgage Payments At the Same Time

If you are current on your mortgage but need money to take advantage of energy tax credits and improvements, refinancing your home with an FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA or conventional fixed-rate mortgage can make your home affordable again and save you thousands of dollars. Click here to quickly determine if you qualify for refinance loan restructuring.

 

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