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Archive for the ‘home improvement’ Category

By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, July 3, 2010–Just in time for summer home improvement season, here are some simple tips, courtesy of Glidden, to help do-it-yourself enthusiasts liven up any space.

1. Pick the appropriate lighting for your paint color. The trick is to create a harmonious balance between color and light. Make up for the lack of light by adding in some table lamps, wall sconces, a chandelier or a mirror and watch how it makes the room look so much bigger even if you’ve painted it charcoal gray.

2. Don’t forget about layering texture and pattern. It gives a room personality and stops the room from looking too flat. Silk curtains, a patterned pillow, or even a nice linen wallpaper are all things that can give the room dimension and make the room more interesting.

3. Look for ways to mix and match furniture. Just because the furniture you like is available as a set doesn’t mean you have to purchase it that way. Mix it up a bit. Consider going with a white lacquer bookcase and a wood coffee table in your living room or a leather sofa paired with a beautiful upholstered armchair.

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The federal economic stimulus package signed into law last year included substantial tax credits for energy-saving home improvements. This means you can cut your monthly utility billsĀ AND reduce your income taxes, while making your home more attractive and possibly more valuable when it’s time to sell!

The Existing Home Retrofit Tax Credit includes a range of energy-saving fix-ups, from windows to windmills, that qualify for a tax break from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Here are five points to ponder:

1. The easiest way to qualify for a tax credit is to buy and install approved products that improve your home’s energy efficiency — heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC) systems, biomass stoves, insulation, doors and windows, some types of roofing, and non-solar water heaters. The tax credit is 30% of the cost of the materials up to $1,500. Some items include installation in the tax credit, some do not, so check at the government’s Energy Star web site below.

2. If you put in a geothermal heat pump, small residential wind turbine, or solar energy system, the tax credit could be even bigger. It’s still 30% of the cost, but there’s no upper limit. So $25,000 spent on rooftop solar heat panels gets you a $7,500 tax credit. Fuel cells earn a tax credit of 30% of the cost, up to $500 per 0.5 kW of power capacity.

3. Tax credits are better than tax deductions, which only lower your taxable income. A tax credit reduces the actual taxes you owe.

4. To qualify for the tax credit, you need to keep itemized receipts and product labels and file a special IRS form. There are specific provisions and exclusions for existing and new homes, principal residences and second homes, and rentals. Be sure to consult with a tax accountant. You can get background information at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.

5. Beyond the federal tax credits, many municipal, county, and state governments, as well as utilities, also offer incentives for purchasing certain energy-efficient products. Check on the internet for cost-saving opportunities from all these sources.

So if you’re thinking about a summer project, consider energy-saving home improvements that could save you big money on next year’s income taxes!

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