GADGETS & GIZMOS
Chill your tax bill
Upgrade your air conditioner by Dec. 31 to earn tax credit
Did you last replace your central air-conditioning system when your teenager was a toddler? Did the poor thingï¿½s compressor rattle and wheeze during Julyï¿½s blistering heat, suggesting it might be on its last legs?
If your answer to either question is yes, then nowï¿½as in without delayï¿½might be the time to install a new, energy-efficient system.
With winter on your doorstep, whatï¿½s the rush? Just this: you only have until December 31 to qualify for a tax credit of up to $1,500 by buying and installing a new, high-efficiency central air conditioner or furnace in your current home.
Not everyone qualifies for this tax credit. Consult with a financial advisor or tax preparer to see if you qualify.
To get the tax credit for air conditioning, you will probably have to buy a new, compatible furnace as well. That may make the purchase seem more seasonally appropriate. It will also, of course, make it more expensive.
Learn more online
For more details on tax credits for home air-conditioning and heating systems, watch for Kentucky Livingï¿½s 2010 Energy Guide in next monthï¿½s issue. Online, go to:
DOLLARS & SENSE
Credit may require buying both air conditioner, furnace
Since 2006 (but with a one-year lapse in 2008), homeowners have been able to cut their taxes by buying high-end equipment that makes heating and cooling more energy efficient. Qualifying items include central air conditioning, natural gas or propane furnaces, biomass stoves, water boilers, insulation, certain roofing materials, and air-source heat pumps.
These credits reward users of conventional technologies that meet stringent standards. An ENERGY STAR rating alone isnï¿½t enough. Items purchased must be in service by December 31, and they must upgrade an existing home.
Homeowners who install qualifying equipment in their principal homes can claim a tax credit for 30 percent of their costs, up to $1,500 in most cases. For some items, including air conditioning and furnaces, the tax credit can apply to installation costs as well as materials. For others, such as roofing and insulation, installation costs are not covered.
In most homes with central heat and air conditioning, a single blower motor pushes the heated or cooled air through the ductwork. To qualify for the tax credit, an air conditioner needs help from a high-efficiency blower motorï¿½but this motor is usually part of the furnace. Thatï¿½s why youï¿½ll probably have to buy both a furnace and air conditioner to get the tax credit.
Moreover, to get a certificate proving your system qualifies, youï¿½ll probably have to buy both from the same manufacturer. Thatï¿½s because key air-conditioning componentsï¿½condenser, evaporator coil, blower motorï¿½must be tested together, and manufacturers only test and certify their own equipment.
If youï¿½ve recently replaced your furnace, you may already have the right kind of blower motor. Check to see if the blower is called an ï¿½advanced main circulating fan.ï¿½ If so, your air conditioner may qualify.