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Upgrades to Home Mean Extra Cash Now, Tax Breaks Later

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By Ed Waters Jr.

upgrade-webRISMEDIA, March 11, 2009-(MCT)-Part of the president’s stimulus package will allow homeowners to save money on energy and on their tax filings. That’s good news, not only for homeowners, but for businessmen such as Steve Plumley of Thermal Specialties and Installation Co. in Adamstown. “I see it as the biggest call to action since World War II,” Plumley said of the move to save money and be less dependent on foreign sources for energy.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive makeover of a house, Plumley said. “People can start with insulation, weather stripping around doors. That’s the biggest thing, air getting in around windows and doors.” Plumley, who does energy inspections for homes, advises that homeowners don’t have to do everything at once.

“Do what needs to be done first,” Plumley said. Curtis Nelson of NCP Solar in Frederick installs residential and commercial solar thermal water heating systems. The Maryland Clean Energy Tax Incentive Program will rebate 30%. If a system costs $6,000, the state will send a check for $1,800 with a maximum of $3,000. A tax incentive from the federal government is 20%, with a maximum of $2,000. “At the moment, the state has spent the money for 2009, what people are doing is installing and applying for 2010,” Nelson said.

Plumley said that the state program will give tax credits for one-third of projects.

“For each $1,000 spent, you get $300 back up to $1,500,” he said. Tim Jones of Glory Energy Solutions in Boonsboro said any energy-saving improvements must be in place by Dec. 31, 2010, and the site must be the owner’s principal dwelling.

Jones said homeowners should save all receipts and the Manufacturer Certification Statement. For windows, the Energy Star label should be saved. Improvements made in 2009 will be claimed on 2009 taxes, filed in 2010. Jones said there are incentives on windows, heating, cooling and ventilation systems, doors, roofing, insulation and water heaters.

Linton Shafer Warfield & Garrett, a Frederick-based CPA firm, noted in its latest newsletter to clients that federal tax incentives are available for small wind turbines for residential and commercial use through 2016. Commercial energy-efficient tax credits are available through 2013 for interior lighting systems, heating and cooling and hot water systems when installed as part of the building’s envelope.

In a recent presentation to local remodelers, Dan Taddei, director of education for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, said too many people want to start with solar panels on the roof. That should be the last step in an environmentally sound house, Taddei said.

“Get the rest of the house totally energy-efficient, then do the roof if you want to,” he said.

He told remodelers the jobs had to be done right: “Don’t just put in a high-efficiency furnace and then not seal it. That’s not green.” Plumley said even older and historic homes can benefit from energy-efficient upgrades without taking away from the vintage look of the house.

For new-home construction, owners can apply for tax credits in photovoltaic systems, solar water heaters, small window systems and fuel cells, but not windows, doors, insulation, roofing, heating-cooling systems or nonsolar water heaters, according to the Energy Star website.

Copyright © 2009, The Frederick News-Post, Md.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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