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Home improvements eligible for tax breaks or rebates

Installation of insulation and other energy-saving products could make you eligible for a tax rebate.

Installation of insulation and other energy-saving products could make you eligible for a tax rebate.

Homeowners often look to make improvements to their homes to improve aesthetics, save money or make their homes more energy efficient. What they may not know is that certain home improvements may qualify them for manufacturer or energy supplier rebates and even federal tax credits that can help a person save even more.

Not all products are eligible each year, so it’s beneficial to know what tax incentives are out there regarding home retrofits. Here are some programs to keep in mind.

In Canada, the ecoEnergy Retrofit -- Homes program has been extended until March 31, 2012. Owners of most homes, including four-season recreational properties and low-rise multi-unit residential buildings of three stories or less with at least 50 percent residential space, might be eligible, according to Natural Resources Canada. Applicants can receive a federal grant for up to $5,000. Owners of multiple dwellings can receive up to $1,000,000. Eligible improvements include heating and cooling systems, ventilation systems, hot water equipment, insulation, air sealing, windows/doors/skylights, and water conservation products.

U.S. residents who made home improvements in 2011 may be eligible for tax credits when filing a 2011 tax return. Installation and replacement of biomass stoves, HVAC systems, insulation, metal and asphalt roofs, nonsolar water heaters and windows/doors can earn a person up to 10 percent of the cost, up to $500, or a specific amount from $50 to $300. Improvements must have been done to an existing home and principal residence by December 31, 2011.

Federal tax credits for 2012 include geothermal heat pumps. These are similar to ordinary heat pumps, but use the ground instead of outside air to provide heating, air conditioning and, in most cases, hot water. Use of small residential wind turbines and solar energy systems, including solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels, are also eligible. These tax credits offer 30 percent of the cost of the renovation with no upper limit.

Visit http://Energy.gov/savings to determine any additional rebate and savings programs that may be offered in your state. Canadian residents can log onto http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/corporate/1513 to find out about other grants and incentives in their province or territory.

Homeowners looking to do improvements can go online or consult with a tax professional to determine which improvements may be eligible for tax credits or incentives. With the energy saved and the credit, it could add up to considerable savings on the new product.

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