Energy tax credits: Make 2013 your lucky year

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: In The News

As someone who often goes against the grain, I've always considered 13 to be a lucky number. However, the health issues I've had the past five months have me rethinking that premise and looking forward to the end of 2013. But the year can yet be lucky for me and anyone else with a desire to make their home more energy efficient: There are still five months left to take advantage of the federal energy tax credits that are set to expire at the end of 2013.

Federal tax credits for energy efficient home improvements

Just about any home has room for improvement in the area of energy efficiency, but old house owners might benefit the most from the current federal energy tax credit program. If your residence is about 20 years old, there's a pretty good chance that its windows and HVAC system could use an upgrade to today's eco-friendly designs. And if your home is over 50 years old and has never been renovated, insufficient insulation could be the reason for those high winter utility bills.

The nice thing about improving an old house's energy efficiency is that the results can be dramatic and immediately obvious -- especially the positive affect it can have on your monthly budget. Here are a few of the federal energy tax credits that may be of particular interest to old house owners:

  • Insulation -- Adding batt, blown-in, and spray foam insulation to your home can all qualify for a tax credit equal to 10 percent of the material costs up to a total of $500. Materials used to eliminate air infiltration may also be eligible if they have a Manufacturers Certification Statement.
  • Windows and doors -- Replacing or adding windows or doors can qualify you for a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost up to a total of $200 for windows and $500 for doors. The new units must be Energy Star-rated. The credit doesn't apply to installation costs.
  • HVAC -- Does your old house need a new furnace? Installing a natural gas, propane, or oil unit can qualify you for a tax credit of up to $150. The new furnace must have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency equal to or greater than 95 to be eligible.
  • Roof -- A new metal roof that reflects the sun's rays and has an Energy Star rating can earn you a tax credit as well as lower your utility costs. Eligible roof materials may qualify for a credit equal to 10 percent of the costs up to a total of $500. The tax credit doesn't cover installation labor.

There are a few stipulations that must be met to qualify for the energy tax credits:

  • The house being upgraded must be your primary residence to be eligible for the tax credits and it can't be new construction.
  • All materials used for the improvements must have a Manufacturers Certification Statement that they meet the criteria for the program.
  • The amount of the tax credit you can claim may be affected by energy tax credits taken in previous years.

Make 2013 your lucky year by taking advantage of the federal energy tax program before it expires at the end of December.