With winter encroaching – or having already arrived, if you’re on the East Coast – now is the time to make sure your home’s energy efficiency is ready to handle the elements.
If you act fast, you can earn an energy-efficiency tax credit of up to $500 on qualified products installed in your primary residence before Dec. 31, 2011 The cumulative credit can be claimed for any combination of the following projects – excluding installation and labor costs:
Tax credit: 10 percent of the cost (up to $500).
Cost: Fiberglass batt insulation typically costs 12 cents (R-11) to 60 cents (R-38) per square foot – the higher the number the better the insulation – based on Environmental Protection Agency figures.
Effect: According to Energy Star, a properly air-sealed and insulated home can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.
Tax credit: 10 percent of the cost (up to $500) of all Energy Star-qualified metal and reflective asphalt shingles.
Cost: Shingle costs can vary widely. Overall cost will depend on type of shingle and size of roof.
Effect: Per the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Star-qualified roofing products reduce the amount of air conditioning needed in buildings and can lower energy bills by up to 50 percent.
NON-SOLAR WATER HEATER
Tax credit: $300. Must be Energy Star gas tankless or heat-pump water heaters to qualify.
Cost: Both water heater models can cost more $1,000.
Effect: Energy Star-qualified gas tankless water heaters cut water heating expenses by 30 percent. Energy Star-qualified heat-pump water heaters can save the average household almost $300 per year on its electric bills compared to a standard electric water heater.
WINDOWS, DOORS, SKYLIGHTS
Tax credit: 10 percent of the cost (up to $500); windows are capped at $200. Must be Energy Star-labeled to qualify.
Cost: Mike Rogers, senior vice president of GreenHomes America, a home-audit company based in Irvine, Calif., estimates, in a typical home, $400 to $1,300 per window or skylight and $1,500 to $3,000 per exterior door.
Effect: Installing new Energy Star-qualified windows can equate to savings of $126 to $465 when replacing single-pane windows or $27 to $111 a year when replacing double-pane/clear glass replacement windows.
Tax credit: $300 for central air conditioning or electric heat pumps; $150 for furnaces and boilers; $50 for advanced main air circulating fan. Go to www.energysavers.gov/financial/70010.html for details and restrictions.
Cost: Rogers, of GreenHomes America, says in a typical home costs can range from $4,000 to $5,500 for a furnace; $6,500 and up for a boiler; $4,000 and up for central A/C or for a heat pump.
Effect: Replacing old heating and cooling equipment with Energy Star-rated equipment can cut your energy bills by more than $200 annually, per the EPA and DOE.
GETTING IT DONE
“There’s a very good chance that Congress will not extend the termination date of this credit again,” says John W. Roth, senior analyst with CCH, a tax and law information and software company based in Riverwoods, Ill. “Homeowners who are planning on making upgrades would be strongly encouraged to take action immediately since the installation must be completed before the end of the year.”
If you’re going to hire a professional to install any of these products, do your homework, adds Toni Haber, an agent with Prudential Douglas Elliman in New York.
“Interview and collect at least three quotes from different contractors for the same job,” she says. “Don’t necessarily go with the cheapest one – try to find a person with the most experience and the best reputation.”