If you have been putting off installing new windows, then you may have been kicking yourself when you realized that the US tax incentives for energy-saving home improvements was due to expire at the end of 2014. Don't worry that you missed out, because with recent extensions of these credits, you can now install those windows this year and claim them on 2015's tax return! New windows that qualify for tax credits also help you save on your energy bills, as the credits are an incentive to lower energy usage in the US. Here is a guide to choosing energy-efficient windows; you can not only lower your tax liability next year, but also save you money year-round on energy bills.
Tax Credit Information
The original US tax credit for installing energy efficient windows in your home was available from 2012 to the end of 2014, and it allowed you to deduct 10 percent of the total cost of those new windows. The renewed plan allows you to deduct 10-percent of that cost as well. You must make sure your windows qualify for the deduction, however, by ensuring they meet the Energy Star requirements.
Window Glass Requirements Vary Based on Location
Energy Star requirements vary depending on your location in the US. Why? Since the credits are incentives for reducing your energy usage, the requirements for windows in colder climates vary from requirements for home windows in warmer climates. In colder climates, the requirements are aimed at reducing heat-loss from the home during the cold winter months. In warmer climates, the requirements are aimed at helping keep these homes cooler in the summer while reducing usage of air-conditioning systems.
While Northern states do have their hot summer spells and Southern states do get occasional low temperatures, the key to energy savings in the long-run is to choose windows based on whether heating or cooling costs are the higher expense in the long run.
While the window U-factor must be .40 or higher in hot, Southern states, it is only required to be about .30 or higher in other areas of the country. It typically costs more to keep a home cool in the summer than it does to keep a home warm in the winter, which is why homeowners in Southern states are required to have windows that provide a higher insulation factor. However, it is good to go with the highest U-factor you can find in new windows, as the higher this number is, the more you will save on both heating and cooling bills in the long run.
The solar heat gain coefficient, however, must be a higher value in cold Northern states than it is in the warmer Southern states to meet Energy Star requirements. This is the measurement of how much outside heat can permeate the window to heat the inside of a home. Higher values are allowed and encouraged in Northern States, because a window that blocks little solar heat can help save money on heating when is cold. If you live in a cold climate, you don't want to block this free solar heat! In the hot South, a window that allows solar heat to heat the home will just raise those air-conditioning bills even more in the summer, so if you live in the south, look for a low SHGC value, which means little heat can pass through the window into the home.
The good news is that your window frames don't need to meet any special requirements to qualify for federal tax credits. However, since your goal is not only to qualify for these credits, but also to save money on heating and cooling, you do want to choose your window frames wisely.
Vinyl window frames are a popular choice for good reason. Vinyl frames don't only provide about the best insulation you can get in a window frame, but they are also low-maintenance, durable, and attractive.
If you thought that you missed out on those great US tax incentives that were due to expire at the end of 2014, then the good news is that now have the year of 2015 to install those new energy-efficient windows that will not only allow you to claim a tax credit next year, but save you tons of money on heating and cooling your home over the long-run.
To learn more, go to sites of window installation companies in your area.