Energy tax credits abound, but windows may be cheapest

While cashing a federal tax rebate check is the easiest way get some of the federal stimulus funds, probably the next easiest is to get a tax rebate for work you were going to do on your home anyway.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has plenty of energy provisions to save taxpayers money while helping to save the environment, but most look like they're expensive for consumers to afford.

There are tax credits for residential alternative energy equipment, such as solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines. Ever get a quote for a wind turbine? They're not cheap. There are also tax credits for plug-in electric cars, which cost a lot of money, too.

Probably one of the best deals, at least in terms of tax credit for money spent, is getting back 30% of the cost of improvements by homeowners for energy savings, called the Residential Energy Property Credit. The credit applies to improvements such as adding insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows and energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning systems.

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