Tax breaks for home energy upgrades

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If your air conditioner is struggling to keep up with the summer heat, now may be the time to let Uncle Sam foot part of the bill for an upgrade. I’m Kristin Arnold with the Bankrate.com personal finance minute.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the official name of the “stimulus bill” that passed earlier this year, provides a credit of up to $1,500 for energy-saving upgrades to windows, insulation, and heating and cooling systems.

As with any tax credit, there are a few limitations. The credit can be used to push your tax bill down to zero, but excess credit won’t produce a refund. Also, the credit won’t cover instillation; make sure you get an itemized receipt from the installer separating charges for materials and installation costs.

You can get even more tax help for installing high-tech, eco-friendly energy systems like roof-top solar cells, small wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps. The IRS will compensate you for up to 30 percent of the cost of the total cost of these systems, including installation, as long as they are in place by Dec. 31, 2016.

For more on this and other personal finance issues visit bankrate.com. I’m Kristin Arnold.