Home Improvements: Investing Your Tax Refund

As spring approaches, the memories of heating bills haunt homeowners and the specters of cooling costs looms on the summer horizon. Energy costs are a large part of the price of owning or renting a home. However, if an person owns his or her own home, repairs and upgrades may cut the prices of energy usage. The homeowner can receive tax credits for upgrades to an existing principal residence from the U.S. government. These tax credits can be quite beneficial to your overall refund status, possibly boosting the amount you receive back. Here are a few tips on what to do with that tax return money.

Tax Return Money

In fact, there are still tax credits available for the 2013 tax year:

  • Biomass Stoves
  • Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning
  • Insulation
  • Metal and Asphalt Roofs
  • Non-solar Water Heaters
  • Windows and Doors

Since Congress has not yet decided whether to extend these credits to 2014, carefully examine legislation as it occurs. However, there are some upgrades and changes that are available to improve energy usage. All of the items stated above are practical to cut energy usage and have a direct effect upon bills.

Energy Audit

An energy audit that assesses the status of current energy usage can be extremely valuable. Try to get the audit from an entity that does not have a stake in selling a product so there is no incentive for incorrect observations.

An energy audit can cost up to $300, but homeowners and building owners find that the process is worth the cost because it assesses where energy is consumed in a building, how much energy is used, and possible retrofits to improve energy usage. The careful attention to not only the energy usage of a home as well as investigating the indoor environment with regard to air quality.

Possible Suggestions for Energy Savings in a Dwelling:

  • Installing Energy-Star rated heating and air conditioning systems
  • Increasing the R-value of insulation in the attic, walls, and sealing air leaks
  • Water heaters that have a high Energy-Star rating. Add an insulating blanket to contain heat.

Energy efficient doors and windows such as those offered by dealers like Polar Seal Windows that prevent leakage and conduction of heat and cold to seal the home. The ease of installation and efficiency in sealing out the weather make these a valuable addition to a home.

Until December 2016, the following energy systems will receive tax credits up to 30% of their cost:

  • Geothermal Heat Pump
  • Small Wind Turbine (residential)
  • Solar Energy System

Each of these particular systems are expensive to install but will cut energy bills substantially in the coming years. The best returns and savings on energy bills can come from replacing windows and adding insulation to the home.

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