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Give yourself a (tax) break

10:38 AM, Apr 22, 2009   |    comments
A Progress Energy Advisor (Ariel Cardona) tests a window for heat penetration and air leaks.
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If you've been thinking about making energy improvements to your home, now is a good time to seriously consider turning thought into action. During these unprecedented economic times, reducing monthly expenses is on almost everyone's mind. Home energy-efficiency improvements will not only help you achieve monthly savings, they will improve your home's comfort and value. Plus, the economic stimulus package recently signed into law by President Obama provides tax breaks to homeowners for a wide range of energy-saving improvements to windows and doors, roofing, water heaters, insulation and HVAC units. 

According to Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, 2009-2010 tax credits for home improvements must meet the following criteria: 

• Must be "placed in service" from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010
• Must be for taxpayers' principal residence 
• Maximum claim for most improvements is $1,500 in 2009 and 2010 (solar water heaters are not subject to this cap)

For record keeping, you will need to save your receipts and the "Manufacturer Certification Statement." For windows, you can save the ENERGY STAR label from your new windows. And, note that improvements made in 2009 will be claimed on your 2009 taxes. Use IRS Tax Form 5695 (2009 version); it will be available in late 2009 or early 2010.

Before you make any energy-efficient home improvements, be sure to schedule a free Home Energy Check with an Energy Advisor from Progress Energy. They can help you navigate through the process of determining which improvements to invest in and the order in which they should be made to give you the biggest return on your investment. For example, you would want to fix leaky ducts and increase your insulation before upgrading your old eating and cooling system. You'll receive a customized energy evaluation of your home, tips to help you save money right now, recommendations about improvements to make for longer-term energy savings, and information about how to take advantage of the tax breaks provided in the stimulus package.

To schedule your free Home Energy Check, call 1.877.364.9003 or visit savethewatts.com. You can also find more information on the home improvement tax credits for consumers by visiting energystar.gov.

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