Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2009

A Guide to Federal Energy Efficiency Incentives in 2009

By Steve Rosenstock

Now that the Stimulus Bill has been signed into law, here is a summary of the new provisions that may be of interest to you.

First Time Home Buyers

If you (or you + a significant other) are a first-time home buyer (or have not owned a home for at least 3 years), you can receive a $8,000 federal tax credit for buying a home (hopefully an energy-efficient one) before 1 December 2009.  Unlike last year’s $7,500 tax credit, you do not have to pay it back over 15 years.

However, there is a catch for previous D.C. homeowners:  If you claimed the D.C. homebuyer tax credit in any prior taxable year, you are not allowed to get the new federal tax credit.

(There are also limits to the tax credit for higher income people).

Existing Homes/Efficiency Upgrades

Under the old law, there was a specific lifetime cap of $500, and specific limits on certain types of efficiency upgrades (e.g., $200 for windows).  Now, the lifetime cap is gone and replaced by a new 30 percent tax credit for qualifying updates, up to a total of $1,500 for improvements made from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2010.  However, there are new requirements for the efficiency upgrades, as shown below.

Insulation must meet values shown in the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), instead of the 2003 IECC under the previous law.

In our area (except for Garrett County in Western Maryland and parts of West Virginia) homes are part of Climate Zone 4 (as determined by DOE).  To receive the federal tax credit for an insulation project, you must meet or beat the following insulation levels for the project you are installing:

Solar Systems and Geothermal Heat Pumps for Your Home

New Car Buyers

If you are in the market for an energy-efficient car or SUV under 8,500 pounds, and you buy one before 1 January 2010, you can deduct all “qualified motor vehicle taxes” from your federal tax return.  “Qualified” taxes include state sales taxes, local sales taxes, and excise taxes.  This is an “above the line” deduction, so people who don’t itemize deductions will get the deduction.

There are limits based on the price of the car (up to $49,500 purchase price) and the deduction is phased out for higher income people.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles or All-Electric Vehicles

Also, there may be state and local incentives for performing these actions.  Your local utility company may be offering rebates, and some state and local government may offer incentives for making your home more energy-efficient.  A good resource is

In conclusion, 2009 and 2010 will be very good years to become more energy efficient.

[Rosenstock is Manager of Energy Solutions at Edison Electric Institute in Washington, D.C.]   ■

   © 2009 NFCCA  [Source:]