Enivornment at Home: Energy efficiency may save you money on your taxes

Special to Idaho StatesmanJanuary 29, 2007 

It's time to start thinking about taxes.

If you are lucky, you may have done energy-efficient things in the past year that might win you a tax break in addition to the savings from conservation. At the very least, you can scope out some things you might do in the next few months that will help out on next year's taxes.

I stumbled upon a great database that gathers information about state incentives for renewable and efficient energy projects. The project is part of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The mission is to encourage the use of renewable energy sources and technologies at the local, state and community level.

This link will take you to a nationwide map of incentives by state: www.dsireusa.org/.

The site includes states and federal tax incentives as well as efficiency programs offered by energy companies.

For example, if your house was built or under construction before 1976, you might be able to deduct 100 percent of the costs of new insulation. In addition to fiberglass insulation, the deduction also may apply to weather stripping, double pane windows, and storm doors and windows.

Any insulation added must be in addition to, not a replacement for, existing insulation. The amount charged for labor may also be deductible.

For more information, contact the Idaho Tax Commission, http://tax.idaho.gov/.

Idahoans also may want to check out a deduction of up to $20,000 for solar, wind and geothermal systems. Ground-source heat pumps and water-source heat pumps are eligible.

The deduction also applies to wood or pellet stoves certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The deduction for the stove stipulates that it is in the taxpayer's residence and replaces a non-EPA stove, that the purchase and replacement occur in the same year and that the old stove is dropped off at a site approved by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The deduction also applies to new natural gas or propane heating units that meet these criteria.

The tax commission is the main contact. But this site has more information on the deduction for stoves: www.deq.state.id.us/air/prog_issues/burning/woodstoves.cfm#Tax.

Those are just a couple of nuggets from the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Check it out to see if there are other ways to save money and energy.

Do you have an idea or tip for our weekly Environment at Home column? Let us know. Send an e-mail to Local@Idaho Statesman.com with subject line "Enviro at Home."

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