In year’s past the idea of “going green” or becoming more environmentally friendly would probably conjure up an image of a tree hugging fanatic. Someone who was pro-environment was considered to have a preference for spending their Saturday nights hanging out with trees, small shrubbery and wild plants (instead of wild intoxicated human house guests). They typically ate tofu and wore Birkenstocks with socks. The men rarely shaved, if ever, and the women refused to cut their hair and seldom washed it in order to conserve water. Purchasing new clothes was forbidden. The family shopped at second hand stores and often wore the same clothing from their teenage years into retirement. Well, that may be a little exaggerated. But, the reality is that being environmentally conscious was not mainstream and certainly not an attractive option.
Now, there is a different image associated with being “green”. In 2009, when we think of being green we think of our neighbors with their 2.5 kids within walking distance from school and a hybrid car in the driveway hidden behind the white picket fence. Mom and Dad take public transit to work. They work in corporate America and have been educated in the best schools. Their house lighting is solar or wind powered and the thermostat is on a timer to shut off during their absence in the day and while sleeping at night. They are conscious of their carbon footprint and are eager to reduce the amount of trash they leave in their garbage cans opting to compost organic material or dispose of plastics and cardboard in a blue recycling bin.
It’s at the point now that even the government is getting in on the craze. According to the Energystar.gov website the Energy Policy Act of 2005 first established the energy efficiency tax credits that became effective in 2006 and 2007. The majority of these tax credits were for 10% of the cost, up to $500. On October 3, 2008 former President Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (also known as the "Bailout Bill") to put many of the tax credits back in place for 2009, and increased the credit to 30%, up to $1,500. On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (also known as the "Stimulus Bill") which among other changes extended the tax credits to 2010. All these credits are intended to assist homeowners in their move to becoming greener citizens.
A few of the available credits are as follows:
§ Tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, up to $1,500, in 2009 & 2010 (for existing homes only) for windows and doors, insulation, roofs, HVAC and non-solar water heaters.
§ Tax credits are also available at 30% of the cost, with no upper limit through 2016 (for existing homes & new construction) for geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar water heaters, small wind energy systems and fuel cells.
For more information on eligibility and how these credits work you should consult a tax professional or review the IRS guidance on this topic.
IRS Notice 2009-53 (6/22/2009) Interim guidance for Section 25C
IRS Notice 2009-41 (5/11/2009) Interim guidance for Section 25D
2009 Copyright ©Marsha Henry