New tax incentives for old homes

Save the planet by making an old home energy efficient  


Better tax credits for increasing the energy efficiency of your existing home. WOW that makes sense. Previously there was a $200 cap on replacement windows. Now it is $1500 tax credit for all energy efficient projects. Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of building more energy efficient homes; it makes great sense that as we build new homes we build them to ever increasing standards that match the new technology available. However, retrofitting an existing home with energy efficient features is much more carbon and cost efficient than adding requirements to new housing.

“These new tax credits are another way that the home building industry can combat the potential effects of global climate change by encouraging home owners to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes,” said Miedema. A 2008 California study showed that homes built before 1983 were responsible for 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions related to single-family envelope energy consumption. The study also found that spending $10,000 to retrofit a 1960s home could save 8.5 tons of carbon at a cost of $588 to $1,176 per ton, depending on existing tax credits and incentives. By comparison, increasing the energy efficiency of a new home 35% over current state requirements would cost about $5,000 and would reduce emissions by 1.1 tons at a cost of $4,545 per ton. The bottom line is that retrofitting existing homes with energy efficient features is four to eight times more carbon- and cost-efficient than adding further energy-efficiency requirements to new housing, the study showed.
Taken from the Nations Building News February 16, 2009 found on

A word of caution is needed, though, as not all E-star rated products will qualify for the new tax credits. The standards have been increased so consumers need to do some research and make sure that their contractor is well informed. These new standards have just been put in place and not everyone including industry professionals will be aware of the new stricter standards. Consumers should always do some research before investing in products for their home, but now it is more imperative than ever before. The window industry is reeling over this news, there are many very high quality windows that will not meet the new criteria and some not so great windows that do. Shgc and U-factors are just part of the story in an efficient window. However, I believe the overall wisdom of making an older home more efficient is the best thing we can do for the environment, our personal comfort and for our pocket books. Realtors can market either a homes existing improvements or the tax credits for making improvements. Every little bit helps in these tough economic times.

Alternative energy systems such as Solar, wind and geothermal have their own tax credits that have been extended to the year 2016. I hope that we will see a continued increase in smart policies that will encourage energy efficiency and new technologies. Below are some websites that have more information.

Contributed by Pamela Simmons

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Loyalty and devotion are things buyers and sellers expect from their Realtor as well as the fiduciary responsibility of due diligence. Dena is a certified Ecobroker, focused on sustainability, energy efficiency and the environment and is a Certified Sales Professional from the Association of Home Builders.

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2 Responses to New tax incentives for old homes

  1. greenhomesamerica says:

    Good stuff. Be careful as there are specific requirements for all of the measures. A couple of things to consider: There is still an open question regarding whether the 30% applies to the cost of materials only or to the total installed cost. Previously the provision was for material only.

    Note also the the cap on solar thermal and solar PV systems has been removed (along the lines of geothermal).

    I provide a couple of good links to specific requirements at And I be posted updates as they before available.


  2. greenhomesamerica says:

    typo on last sentence…should read…

    “And I will be posting updates as they become available”