Too Late — No More Tax Credits For Energy Efficiency (Soon)

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After six years of tax breaks for buying energy efficient appliances, the federal door is closing. They’re done trying to thank consumers for some sense of responsibility. The incentives are over at the end of 2011 – any applicable items must be not only bought but installed by December 31st in order to still be eligible.

For those on the fence, the effects of energy efficient items can be hard to quantify. A drafty kitchen door is hard to ignore, but buying a cheaper air conditioner might seem like the obvious choice. For the more expensive but more efficient items, payback in the form of lower energy bills has to come fast or not at all. According to a poll taken by Emerson Climate Technologies, only 29% of respondents would be willing to invest $5,000 if the payback were to be 10 years. Six months seems to be the longest most people are willing to wait.

The tax credit has been described as a way to get people thinking about energy efficiency, but many people didn’t even know it existed. Federal incentives, including tax credits, rebates, tax holidays, have been inconsistent at best; the tax credit, for instance, was first offered in 2005, disappeared in 2008, came back and now is nearly gone again.

Those of you who still want to take advantage of the tax credit need to file IRS Form 5695 (not available for the 2011 tax year yet) with your taxes. You also need receipts proving purchase and a copy of the manufacturer certification. You can also check out your state’s programs here.  If you just so happen to be building commercially, the credit isn’t going anywhere until 2014.

Manufacturers can certify in packaging or on the website which products qualify, and only items installed in or on the taxpayer’s principle residence in the United States are eligible. See the chart below for qualifying items and the corresponding credit.

Source: Sierra Club

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