Last week, we discussesd what you could do to make your home more efficient.   Let’s go over the details of what is covered in this tax credit.

What’s Covered in the Tax Credit?

Below are some qualifying examples of what’s covered (find a very readable, comprehensive list at

For tax credit of 30% of cost up to $1,500 (expires December 31, 2010):

Biomass Stoves:    These gadgets convert green fuels (think grass, trees, wood, plants) into heat for your home or hot water.

Non-solar water heaters:   Electric heat pump water heaters and gas, oil, and propane types qualify.     Sorry– no tax credit for conventional electric water heaters.

Roofs (metal and asphalt):   To quality, your roof must reflect more of the sun’s rays than not.   By doing so, Energy Star claims you can lower your roof surface temperature by up to 100F, meaning less heat in your home and greener cooling.

Windows and Doors:   Energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights are qualifying items.   Includes sliding glass doors, garage doors, storm doors and storm windows.  

For tax credit of 30% of cost, with no upper limit (expires December 31, 2016):

Geothermal Heat Pumps:   One of the most efficient and green ways to go for your HVAC needs, these use the ground, the earth’s natural heat (and not the outside air) to produce heating and air conditioning.

Small Wind Turbines:   Want to convert wind energy to electricity?   Look into them. How to apply

Solar Energy Systems:   Does using the sun’s energy to heat water sound green to you?     Sorry, expenses related to hot tubs and swimming pools don’t qualify for the credit.

Solar Water Heaters:  These come in all kinds of designs.   All include a collector and a storage tank.   Thermal energy heats the water.

Here’s where it gets complicated-and expensive.   This project demands that you investigate state subsidies to fund the project-the federal credit falls short on this one.   You must have a “qualifying property,” meaning half of your energy must be generated by the sun, to get the credit.

There’s more:   The system must also be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation.   You would also need to invest in a photovoltaic system for your electricity system to qualify.   Things now can get mighty expensive.  Photovoltaic systems must provide electricity for your residence.   It must meet applicable fire and electrical code requirements, too.

Want more specifics on the tax credits? Go to

Need information on state subsidies?   Find Illinois data at DSIRE (Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency).  Go to

Want estimates on utility bills before you invest in solar?   The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PV watts has an online calculator to estimate your utility bill savings from a photovoltaic system.  Go to

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