By Shandra Hill Smith
For homeowners looking to take advantage of federal tax credits for energy-efficiency improvements this coming new year, there’s still time to tackle some qualifying projects. You have until Dec. 31 to complete projects for your existing primary residence.
The benefit? File with the IRS by April 15, 2011 to qualify for tax credits of 30 percent of the cost, up to a total credit of $1,500. However, with some of the products, such as roofing and storm doors, this doesn’t include costs for installation of materials or labor.
Below, you’ll find a list of projects you could realistically take on before year’s end.
Install:

  • Storm windows and doors
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • ENERGY STAR qualified metal and reflective asphalt shingles
  • Water heaters (though these may have to be ordered as some stores don’t carry a large stock)
  • Biomass stoves, which burn biomass fuel to heat a home or water (may also have to be ordered)

All items on the list, says David Chatman of the Edgewood Lowe’s location in Atlanta, can help to beef up energy efficiency, while slashing your heating and cooling costs.
“The overall benefit is that you’re going to be more comfortable in your home,” adds Chatman, a department manager in millworks at the store located at 1280 Caroline Street in the Edgewood Shopping Center. “Nowadays, with the economy the way it is, everybody’s going to do what they can to save. When you weatherize your home properly, you can save on utility bills, at least $200 a year – depending on how thorough you are with projects and the square footage of your home.”
Small things such as changing out thermostats, Chatman says, can make a big difference. “We carry ones that qualify for the tax credit. They’re programmable. You can preset it so it comes on at a certain time in the morning when you get up. When you get ready to leave it will turn itself down.”
Adding or replacing insulation can make for another cost-effective job.
“As insulation gets older, it starts to settle. If it’s a newer home, sometimes builders use a minimal amount – just what you need to pass inspection. You can layer what they have to increase the energy efficiency in your home. Use a yardstick to measure the insulation that’s there. If it’s less than 19 inches in thickness you may want to look at increasing it.”
Packaging for most products that qualify indicates which may apply for a tax credit. However, if you’re not certain, Chatman says Lowe’s associates can confirm by reaching out to the manufacturer of the product.
Just be sure to hold on to your receipts and the Manufacturer Certification Statement. After all, in a recession, every little bit counts.
For more information, visit www.energystar.gov or www.lowes.com.