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Stimulating Energy Efficiency

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the stimulus talk? Have the vague, too-big-to-comprehend “$787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” stories got you feeling a little, well, overstimulated (in a decidedly understimulating way)?

Then it’s about time for some stimulus news you can use: there is up to $2.3 billion in tax credits waiting for those who make their home or business more energy efficient.

The 10% tax credit for energy efficiency improvements has been boosted to 30%, with a max of $1,500. The old rule where you could only claim certain amounts for certain improvements, like new windows, is out the proverbial window, so that $1,500 cap is aggregate – doors, windows, furnaces, you name it. Americans have this year and next to take advantage – the credits end after 2010.

With the economy listing and layoffs on the rise, now may not seem like the best time to lay out big bucks for, say, a new furnace. But auto and building supplier Johnson Controls claims the money you save in rebates combined with heating efficiency allows you to pay back the cost for a new furnace in as little as two years.

And if you’ve been thinking about getting really bold and going solar, geothermal, wind or fuel cell, now’s the time: There is now no dollar cap on tax credits for residential renewable energy systems. You get 30%, whatever the cost.

The Department of Energy has some great info on how to identify the energy-sapping trouble spots in your home. So evaluate, weigh your cost/reward, and take advantage of what they’re giving us.

After all, it’s our own little slice of the stimulus.

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“Stimulating Energy Efficiency”