There are some tempting tax credits available for those homeowners willing to invest in renewable energy.
When President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the Stimulus Bill) back in February, the debate was so huge and the price tag so large that a few things seemed to fall through the cracks.
One such item has the potential to benefit a large number of New Hampshire homeowners. The bill includes major federal tax credits - not deductions - for those who make green home improvements and repairs. When the President signed the bill, he both improved upon existing credits and extended them through 2010.
June is when Granite Staters emerge, take stock of their homes and start on the to-do list of repairs, additions and improvements. This season think about your drafty windows and doors, wheezing furnace, inadequate insulation or leaky roof and consider fixing them in an environmentally friendly way - it might just pay off.
The two types of tax credits are more appealing than ever. The first type, for less expensive improvements, gives you a 30 percent credit for the first $1,500 spent on products such as energy efficient windows and doors, pellet stoves and insulation.
For example, if you shivered all winter long and cranked the thermostat thanks to drafty windows, you would receive $450 back on $1,500 spent to replace them with a more energy-efficient variety. Unlike a deduction, the credit is subtracted directly from the bottom line of your tax bill.
When it comes to bigger ticket items, such as solar panels, wind energy or geothermal heat pumps, the credit is 30 percent of the total cost with no upper limit. For instance, if you spend $20,000 on a geothermal heating system you receive a tax credit of $6,000.
For many homeowners, the benefits for making an investment in renewable energy are threefold - money is saved with reduced energy bills, you're helping to improve the environment and the government is offering, in a sense, an amazing sale on energy-efficient and renewable energy products.
The tax credits changed by the Stimulus Bill, plus energy-efficiency specifications and requirements, are explained in full at www.energystar.gov.
For information about incentives and programs enacted by the state of New Hampshire, visit http://www.nh.gov/oep/programs/energy/RenewableEnergyIncentives.htm. Here you will find a list of programs that apply to both homeowners, small businesses and farms. NH
New Hampshire has a number of vendors and businesses that can help you with everything from purchasing weather stripping to wind energy systems. Listed here are just a few.
(603) 888-4777 or (603) 883-6325
Locations throughout New Hampshire
Marvin Windows and Doors
Locations throughout New Hampshire
Skillings & Sons Inc.
(Extensive information on geothermal energy)
9 Columbia Dr.
Green Energy Options Geo Solar
79 Emerald St.
Seacoast Energy Alternatives Inc.
187 Rte. 108
WeatherWise Heating & Air Conditioning Inc.
Locations throughout New Hampshire
Real Green Goods
35 S. Main St.
North Ridge Environmental
209 First N. Tpke
Mts Environmental Inc.
69 Dover Rd.
Smart Associate Environmental
72 N. Main St. Suite 1
490 Gulf Rd.
Zetland Homes LLC
(603) 746-3556 or (toll-free) 877-666-0476
24 Barr Rd.
Garden Artisans LLC
66 Cotton Hill Rd.
2021 Main St.
Green Shopper, LLC
Ellis Carpet Cleaning
786 N. Barnstead Rd.
Bonin Architects & Associates, PLLC
61 Petrin Heights Rd.
New Hampshire All Natural
228 Loudon Rd. Suites 5 & 6
Sage Living, LLC
30A Warren St.
Your Home, Your World
138 N. Main St.
71 Park St.
59 Columbus Ave.
EcoRug Sisal Rugs
Kahn Landscaping LLC
147 Robinson Rd.
45B Derry Rd.
Eco-Logic Homes, LLC
25 Roxbury St.
Leeks & Bounds
2 Cottage Rd.
12 Northbrook Dr. Unit 211
Pamper Me Clean/Pennies N' Sense
323 S. Willow St.
Solar Components Corp
121 Valley St.
1 World Trading Co.
111 Main St.
Shaklee Independent Distributor
21 Monza Rd.
Environmental Test Products
375 Jaffrey Rd., Rte 202
1500A Lafayette Rd. PMB 424
Extremely Green Gardening Co.
953 Islington St.
890 Banfield Rd.
210 West Rd.
Sundance Solar Products, Inc.
<hr no shade>
New Hampshire Carbon Challenge
Take the challenge, improve the environment and shrink your energy bills
When faced with immense challenges, such as reducing our country's (and our world's) greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, it can be easy to feel disconnected and powerless as an individual to make any significant impact. Sure, you could swap out some light bulbs and unplug your computer at night, but in the big picture, does it really change anything?
The answer, says Julia Dundorf of The New Hampshire Carbon Challenge, is a resounding "yes."
The challenge is this: reduce your household's carbon dioxide emissions by 10,000 pounds per year.
Co-founded by Dundorf and Denise Blaha back in 2006, The New Hampshire Carbon Challenge strives to educate, offer inspiration and support reductions in residential energy consumption. The Challenge is a nonprofit joint initiative with the University of New Hampshire and, as of May, with Clean Air-Cool Planet as well.
Joining up with Clean Air-Cool Planet, says Dundorf, is a huge step forward that will allow The Challenge to expand regionally across New England.
The Carbon Challenge does two important things - it quickly, via handy online tools, can show you how much energy you consume and a number of ways to reduce your consumption. Then, your energy savings are translated into dollar savings - and those savings are no small thing.
"The average person taking the Carbon Challenge is saving over $800 a year doing very easy things," says Dundorf.
Taking the online challenge is easy (visit http://carbonchallenge.sr.unh.edu to sign up). Simply plug in how much fuel and electricity you use per year, and then pledge to do things such as change incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents, air-dry dishes after using the dishwasher, unplug old dehumidifiers, put electronics on power strips and turn the strip off when not in use, dry your clothes outside whenever possible, turn down your thermostat in the winter and a number of other easy fixes that won't require huge lifestyle changes.
When you're done, you can instantly see how much carbon dioxide you're reducing and how much money that means you're saving.
Not only does taking the Carbon Challenge translate improving our environment into tangible dollar amounts, it also connects people to the environment and to their communities.
At the moment, Keene and Portsmouth are involved in a competition to see who can reduce their emissions the most. At press time, Keene was ahead. There are a number of ways for communities to enter into challenges - for example, in Rye, classrooms competed in a month-long challenge to see who could have the most participants, the Public Library in Hampstead hosted a challenge complete with raffle prizes and other incentives to sign up and other communities all over the state have their own challenges and competitions.
Visit the Challenge's Web site to see which towns rank the highest and the total pounds carbon dioxide reduced to date (12,624,195 pledged at press time).
Also, if you're concerned about how much energy is consumed in your workplace, The New Hampshire Carbon Challenge offers training for businesses. Currently they are working with companies such as Stoneyfield Farm Organic, Timberland and more. NH
8 College Rd.
CSRC Morse Hall, UNH
This article appears in the December 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine