Need a little financial motivation to tackle those eco-friendly home renovations? Look no further than Uncle Sam. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, otherwise known as the stimulus bill, it’s never been a better time to green your living space. As of last January, homeowners are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit for energy-efficient upgrades and purchases on everything from windows and insulation to HVACs and biomass stoves.The deal is sweetest for efficient heating and cooling equipment like geothermal pumps and solar panels. You’ll receive a 30 percent rebate on the full cost of your investment, including installation. John’s $24,000 geothermal setup, for instance, comes to $16,800 after taxes. The same rule applies to solar heaters and wind turbines. And the credit stays in effect until 2016, so there’s plenty of time to save up for the big project.
The tax credit for smaller, “building envelope” items is less generous and expires at the end of 2010. This category, which includes things like energy-efficient insulation, windows, metal or asphalt roofing, and central A/C units (no window units, unfortunately), is capped at $1,500. Of course, you’ll still see plenty of savings on your monthly energy bill.
To qualify for the credits, all products must meet the energy-efficiency guidelines established by the Department of Energy, so check out the DOE’s Web sites energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm and energystar.gov before you shop. For even more savings, be sure to inquire about additional local and state credits, as well as rebate programs from your energy supplier. —Carina Storrssingle page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.