If your doors leak, your double-paned windows blew their seal, or your sputtering furnace is about to go kaput, you might be able to replace them with help from Uncle Sam.
Homeowners who install high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, doors, windows and insulation this year or next could be eligible for federal tax credits of up to $1,500.
For homeowners who need the upgrades, says Jeremy Kliemann of Kliemann Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning in Tacoma, “There’s no better time than now.”
Kliemann Brothers representatives and other vendors specializing in those products and services will be happy to explain the details at the Tacoma Fall Home & Garden Show starting Thursday.
About 400 exhibitors hawking everything from faucet fixtures and flooring to roofing and retractable awning will be at the show in the Tacoma Dome, said show spokesman Barry Bartlett.
New this year is a 500-square-foot, synthetic-turf putting green with changeable terrain. “I’m a golfer, so I’ve always wanted one of these,” Bartlett said. “It can create different undulations so you can change the putting experience.”
New demonstration gardens will give visitors more ideas. The “Landscapes of Ireland” garden will emphasize low maintenance, with a lot of rocks, stone paths, a stone fire pit and a stone hot tub. Another garden will feature a three-tiered rock bubbler, waterfall and pond, fire pit and paver patio accented with palm trees and an alpine landscape.
A big element showgoers will notice is vendors’ emphasis on tax credits available through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009.
“Each year, we see more and more exhibitors offering new heating and energy-saving alternatives,” Bartlett said.
Homeowners can receive a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, water heaters, windows, doors, roofing and insulation in 2009 or 2010. The maximum tax credit for most improvements is $1,500. But there’s no lid maximum on the credit for geothermal, solar and wind systems.
But consumers need to beware of the fine print.
It’s a one-time credit; homeowners can’t get the credit both years. Calculating the tax credit includes the cost of installation for some upgrades, but not all.
Most important, credits apply only to products meeting the highest energy-efficiency standards, which typically are the most expensive. Not even all products with the federal government’s Energy Star rating qualify for the credit.
People seeking a furnace or heat pump, for instance, will have to buy a high-efficiency – and more costly – system to get the credit.
Besides the federal tax credit, manufacturers and utilities are offering rebates and credits for some products.
Someone buying a high-efficiency gas furnace, for instance, could see credits and rebates totaling $1,900 to $2,200, said Kliemann, sales manager for Kliemann Brothers.
While companies such as Kliemann’s know which of their products will qualify for the federal tax credit, Kliemann said consumers should be aware of their individual tax situation to know if they personally qualify.
“Before you assume you’ll get it, talk to a tax accountant,” Kliemann said.
The tax incentive definitely has boosted business, he said. The company is seeing customers who would have bought a furnace regardless of the tax credit buy a better one once they know the credit will cover most of the additional cost of the higher-end system.
“It’s really helped us through the slower times,” Kliemann said.
Despite the recession, the number of vendors at the home and garden show will be about the same as last year, Bartlett said. “Everyone’s been impacted but we haven’t seen a huge drop in involvement by exhibitors,” Bartlett said. “They understand this is an important marketing tool for them, and they need to be at these shows.”
Bartlett said he thinks homeowners continue to regard their homes as a good investment, worthy of improving. “People may not be as likely to move to a new home as two or three years ago, but they’re looking at ways to make their home more liveable and efficient,” he said.
Debby Abe: 253-597-8694