Come mid-April, it turns out that Americans aren't eager to work with Uncle Sam even when he's being helpful. According to a recent survey conducted by Opinion Research for insulation manufacturer Johns Manville, just 23% of American homeowners took advantage of federal tax credits for energy-efficient home improvements in 2006. This, despite the fact that 78% of homeowners surveyed reported that their heating and cooling costs increased by 5% or more in 2006, and a full 74% of homeowners knew the credits were available under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
So why did so few homeowners take the credit? Overall, 39% said they weren't aware it was available when they filed; 32% believe their homes are already energy-efficient; and 22% said they didn't have money to spend on energy-efficient upgrades.
Thankfully, the federal credits are still available to homeowners who install energy-efficient products before December 31, 2007. Details about the credits and eligible products are available at the Energy Star Web site (see “Energy Efficiency Resources” below).
More good news is that Congress is working on new legislation to make the credits available longer. In March, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and co-sponsor Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Extend Act (S. 822 and H.R. 1385) with residential and business energy-improvement incentives. Snowe's office tells REMODELING the bill has been well-received on both sides of the aisle and is expected to bring more awareness to homeowners.
Remodelers, too, can earn customer service points by making their clients aware of the credits and directing them toward energy-efficient appliances, windows, insulation, and more. Informational resources are available at the Web sites listed at right.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY RESOURCES
- Energy Star: www.energystar.gov
- Alliance to Save Energy: www.ase.org
- Council for an Energy Efficient Economy: www.energytaxincentives.org
- U.S. Department of Energy: www.energy.gov
- Internal Revenue Service: www.irs.gov