Going green saves homebuyers green

Last spring, we had a 2009 stimulus package signed into law that provides some generous federal tax credits for environmentally friendly home improvements.

There are incentives for a variety of green home improvements, including alternative energy systems; efficient hot water and heating and AC systems; energy efficient windows and doors; insulation; and reflective roofing.

You have until Dec. 31, 2010, to install any of these items which will entitle you to a tax credit of up $1500.

This limit is cumulative—you cannot install a new roof and new windows and get $3000 off your taxes in a single year. Don’t confuse this with a tax deduction, this is a credit that, in short, puts $1,500 in your pocket!

Replace your roof with Energy Star roofing materials such as specially treated asphalt or reflective metal.

Highly reflective roofing surfaces will keep your home cooler in the summer.

Skylights both conventional and tubular qualify. Low-emissivity glass, which lets in light while insulating, is valuable on skylights fully exposed to the sun.

Adding an additional layer of R-19 insulation to R-30 insulation in the attic could save 20 percent or more on heating and cooling bills – in addition to the tax credit. The Department of Energy estimates 80 million homes in America to be under-insulated.

This tax credit applies to replacement windows, storm windows and new energy-efficient doors. Windows that feature low emissivity glass traps infrared heat inside the home in the winter and keep it out in the summer.

Look for inert gas between double panes and spacers to keep panes separate. Frames made of vinyl, vinyl-clad wood, wood and fiberglass qualify for the credit. Energy-efficient doors contain insulating core materials and better weather stripping. Installing storm doors also counts toward a tax credit.

Heating your home with highly efficient gas, propane or oil furnaces and boilers also qualify for the tax credit. They need to meet an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating of greater than 90 for gas furnaces and 85 for oil furnaces. Replacing an outdated water heater with an efficient model qualifies for the tax credit. Hot water accounts for about 20 percent of energy consumption.

Homebuilders, you are also eligible for tax credits, up to $2,000 for building energy efficient homes.

Remember this last little green tip: shop local.

Windermere Real Estate agents Tracy Corriveau and Kim Poole can be reached at (360) 297-2661.