Home Improvement Credits & Rebates

Wednesday Aug. 4th, 2010

Tim Ford

Even though the homebuyer tax credit has expired, there are still a lot of great tax credits and rebates available for home improvement projects. For someone that has considered increasing the efficiency of their home, this is a great time to complete those projects and qualify for tax credits or rebates. These home improvement projects are also a great way to build sweat equity and increase the value of your home.

The United States Federal Government is offering tax credits for the installation of qualifying appliances that meet energy efficiency guidelines. There is a tax credit for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Insulation, Roofs, Water Heaters, Windows and Doors, and Biomass Stoves.

The tax credit is 30% of the costs involved including installation, with a cap of $1.500. The tax credit expires December 31st, 2010. The tax credit is available for existing homes which are the tax payer’s principal residence. New construction homes and rentals do not qualify. There are no income limits to the energy efficiency tax credits.

There is also a tax credit available for Geothermal Heat Pumps, Small Wind Turbines, and Solar Energy Systems that is also 30% of the costs, but there is no upper limit. This tax credit is available for existing homes, new construction, principal residences and second homes. However, rentals do not qualify.

The new product must meet energy efficiency guidelines in order to qualify for the tax credit. Not all Energy Star rated products qualify, and there is not a list of qualifying products. The best way to find tax credit eligible products is to ask a qualified installer or retailer of the product you are interested in.
In order to apply for the tax credit, save your receipts and the Manufacturer’s Certification Statement for your records and submit Form 5695 with your taxes.

NorthWestern Energy is offering a free energy audit to NorthWestern Energy customers that have not had a previous energy audit completed. The energy audit includes an Energy usage survey, insulation evaluation, blower test to detect areas of air leakage, water heater temperature check, refrigerator/freezer temperature check, and gas equipment safety check.

After the energy audit, they will provide a customized report on the home’s energy usage, recommendations for better energy cost management, and information on rebates for installation of qualifying energy efficiency measures. For more information, or to schedule an energy audit, call 1-800-823-5995.

Summer is a great time to schedule an energy audit as there is often a shorter wait, and it gives the home owner plenty of time to take advantage of tax credits and make needed improvements before winter arrives.

NorthWestern Energy is also offering rebates to its customers for installation of insulation, programmable thermostats, boilers and furnaces, water heaters, insulation of pipes and water tanks, and installation of new boiler controls.

While customers can install the qualified products themselves and still receive the rebates, the rebates are higher when they use a Preferred Contractor. Preferred Contractors have agreed to meet the qualifications of NorthWestern Energy’s E+ Programs. A list of Preferred Contractors can be found at www.northwesternenergy.com.

NorthWestern Energy has also started the Bright Future Challenge, which has a goal of saving 10 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Customers are eligible for a rebate on qualified Energy Star compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) through the E+ Home Lighting Program. To qualify, submit a rebate request for a minimum of 5 CFLs or one light fixture. There is a limit of five lighting fixtures and fifteen CFLs in one calendar year. Customers who accept the Bright Future Challenge will also be entered into drawings for gift cards to home improvement retailers and $10,000 in cash prizes. For more information, go to www.brightfuturechallenge.com.

If your home has an antiquated heating system, or you’re losing heat out of your windows or walls, this is a great time to make your home more efficient and take advantage of the tax credits and rebates available. The work will not only make your home more comfortable and efficient, but it could also help to add to its value and decrease your utility bills.

For more information about the Federal Tax Credits, visit a retailer or installer of the product you are interested in, or visit www.energystar.gov.

For more information about NorthWestern Energy’s rebates or energy audits, visit  www.northwesternenergy.com or call 1-800-823-5995.

Tim Ford is a Realtor with Vellinga Real Estate in Bozeman, Montana. He can be reached at (406) 209-1214, or at timothyjford@gmail.com.