Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Time to ‘go green’ with tax credit, discounts on energy-efficient buys

Hefty discounts on energy-efficient home products, a big federal tax credit and our need to save money on energy bills make this the time to "go green."

Hefty discounts on energy-efficient home products, a big federal tax credit and our need to save money on energy bills make this the time to "go green."

If your windows and doors are letting cool, air-conditioned air leak outdoors, your electric bill will tell you soon.

Good news: Now is a great time to invest in energy-efficient windows and other home-improvement products that can keep your home more comfortable and cut down energy bills.

You don’t have to look hard to find discounts on all kinds of home products as stores and contractors put them on sale to get cautious consumers spending again during this recession.

Making it even more tempting to shop for energy efficiency is a substantial new federal tax credit – up to $1,500 – for anyone who buys superefficient windows, doors, insulation, metal and asphalt roofs, heating and air conditioning systems and some water heaters. Solar panels and some alternative-energy systems qualify for an even higher tax credit.

If discounted prices plus a huge tax credit aren’t enough of an incentive to replace your home’s older, inefficient products, consider how much money you’ll save on energy every year because the new models cost so much less to operate.

This perfect storm of circumstances – plenty of sales, a big federal tax credit and our need to save money on energy bills – makes this a good time to “go green.”

In fact, most of us are thinking a little “greener” than we used to, and we’re trying to find affordable ways not only to lower our energy bills, but also to reduce the negative impact we have on the environment.

To take advantage of the new tax credits, tell your salesperson or contractor that you want to invest in a product that qualifies. Not all energy-efficient devices are on the list. In fact, even some Energy Star products are excluded.

And note: If you’re buying windows, doors, a metal or asphalt roof or insulation, you can claim the credit only on the product, not the installation fees.

Plus, you’ll need to download a certificate from the Web site of the product’s manufacturer that guarantees that it meets the federal requirements for the tax credit. Save that, along with your sales receipt, in case the IRS has a question about your claim later.

Making energy-efficient improvements to your home makes sense at any time, especially if you live in an older house with single-pane windows and an air-conditioning system that has to work too hard – and guzzle too much energy – to cool your house in summer.

Right now, it makes even more sense because so much is on sale and because these tax credits are good only for 2009 and 2010.

Yes, money’s tight, and maybe you could put off replacing those leaky windows or that worn-out insulation for a couple of years. But the incentives are here now. And an investment in energy efficiency now will make your house cheaper to operate. Those savings will show up immediately and reward you every month you see your energy bill.

Rosie Romero has been in the Arizona homebuilding and remodeling industry for 35 years. He has a radio program from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KNST-AM (790). For more do-it-yourself tips and for Arizona’s most-trusted contractor referral network, go to rosieonthehouse.com or call (888) ROSIE-4-U during the show. The Rosie on the House column appears every Friday.

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