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By Glenn Haege
(All rights reserved)


About those 2016 energy tax credits

 

With the 2016 tax filing season coming to a close next week, you may be scrambling to get your return completed or getting ready to file an extension. But in either case, make sure you think about any energy efficiency home improvements you did last year that may qualify for a tax credit.

 

2016 had a lot of tax credits available for certain energy-efficient home improvements, including for central air conditioning, furnaces, insulation, roofs, water heaters, windows, doors and skylights. If these home improvements meet the energy standards, the available tax credit is 10 percent of the cost up to $500 or a specific amount from $50 to $300. The tax credits are available for existing home and new construction, including principal residences and second homes.

 

So putting in an energy efficient central air conditioner would give you a $300 tax credit; $150 for a fuel efficient new furnace; or 10 percent of the cost up to $500 for upgrading your insulation, just to name a few.

 

In addition, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Small Wind Turbines and Solar Energy Systems also qualified for the 30 percent tax credit in 2016 for existing homes and new construction, but only for principal residences.

 

To qualify for these tax credits, the improvements have to meet specific energy efficiency standards, such as 16 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and 13 EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) for a central air conditioner system, an AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating of 95 plus for a furnace, or replacement windows that are Energy Star certified.

 

To receive the tax credits, you will need to fill out IRS Form 5695-Residential Energy Credits.

 

Unfortunately, most of these tax credits for upgrading your home’s energy efficiency expired on Dec. 31, 2016. But even if you already filed your return, you may be able to file an amendment to add these tax credits.

 

For 2017, the only federal tax credits available for energy efficient home improvements as of this writing are for solar energy systems, which includes solar water heaters and solar panels. The tax credit is 30 percent of the cost with no upper limit and is available for existing homes and new construction for both principal residences and second homes.

 

For details on these tax credits, go to energystar.gov and click on the Tax Credits icon.

 

While most of the federal tax credits have expired, you may still be able to qualify for rebates from your local utility for certain energy efficiency upgrades. Here’s an overview of rebates outlined on the state’s two biggest utilities; Consumers Energy and DTE:

 

Consumers Energy: Rebates are available for improving heating and cooling efficiency, increasing the R-value of your insulation and replacing old windows and glass doors with new, more energy-efficient models. The rebates can include $15 per window and $40 per door; $75 for a super high efficiency water heater or $100 for a tankless unit; $50 each for attic and wall insulation; $350 for a new high-efficiency furnace with a AFUE rating of 97 plus; and $550 for a split central air conditioner with a 19 or high SEER rating. Consumers Energy also offers rebates for replacing old appliances with new Energy Star certified models that range from $20 for a de-humidifier or room air conditioner, $25 for a washing machine and $50 for a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat. Customers that have both electric and gas service with Consumers Energy may qualify for even higher rebates.

 

For information on these and other rebates, go to consumersenergy.com.

 

DTE: For DTE customers, rebates are available for upgrading heating and air conditioning equipment, water heaters, insulation, and replacing windows and patio doors. Rebates include $125 for attic or above-grade wall insulation; $15 for each new energy efficient window and $40 for a energy efficient glass patio door; $300 for a new high efficiency furnace with a 97 or higher AFUE rating; and $400 for a central air conditioner with a 19 or higher SEER. Buying a new Energy Star certified washer, room air conditioner or dehumidifier could also qualify for a $25 rebate.

 

For more information, click on the Save Energy tab on the DTE website at dteenergy.com.

 

Just a reminder that the Consumers Energy and DTE rebates are contingent upon the products meeting various energy efficiency factors, and there is also a cap on the funds available each year for these rebates.