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Energy tax credits about to expire

Tax credits for energy efficiency home improvements like insulation, replacement windows, and upgraded HVAC systems will end on Dec. 31, and Congress has not yet renewed them for 2012.

This warning from the Alliance to Save Energy gives homeowners less than a month to take advantage of as much as $500 in tax credits on their 2011 federal tax returns.

The specific home improvements that qualify for tax credits fall into a number of categories: Exterior windows; skylights and storm windows; insulation; exterior doors; roofs; storm doors; and products to seal air leaks, such as caulking, weather stripping and foam sealants; highly efficient heating and cooling equipment, including central air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, boilers, water heaters and biomass (e.g. corn) stoves. 

Each product category also must meet specific energy efficiency requirements, which are spelled out on the Alliance's tax credits Web page.

Percentage and/or dollar limits on particular energy-efficient upgrades include:

• 10% of the cost of insulation and sealing materials, exterior doors and roofs.   
• 10% of the cost, up to $200, of exterior windows or skylights.   
• Up to $300 for electric heat pump water heaters, electric heat pumps, central air conditioners, biomass stoves and natural gas, propane or oil water heaters. 
• Up to $50 for advanced main air circulating fans. 
• Up to $150 for natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boilers.  

The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy and national security.