Weather is the lead story right now with Hurricane Ike barreling into the Texas coast, but soon more mundane climatological concerns will be upon us all.
Yes, winter is on its way. For those of us in Central Texas, where we've had an inordinate number of days this year where thermometers hit 100 degrees or higher, cooler weather can't get here soon enough. Then we'll all be whining about how cold it is!
Special loans for energy improvements: To get ready for winter, or replace an HVAC system that was literally used to death during the summer, our local electric utility has an interesting, or rather no interest, offer.
The interest-free Energy Star loan options allow customers to choose a three- or five-year payback term through a local credit union. Or homeowners can choose a longer payback term, seven or 10 years, and get a
Eligible improvements include a new energy-efficient air conditioner or heat pump, duct sealing, insulation, solar screens, window film and radiant barrier treatment in the attic.
The hubby and I are seriously thinking about a radiant barrier. Our attic is an oven in "normal" summers. I was afraid to check it out during this year's string of 100-plus days!
Austin Energy apparently has been offering this program for a while. The utility says about 300 Austinites take advantage of the loan program every year, with some customers reporting a post-improvement drop in their summer energy bills of up to
I suspect that Austin Energy is not the only utility in the country offering such loans. Check with your local electric provider to see what types of energy, and money, saving programs they have.
You also can check DSIRE, the Database of State incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. The Web site is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Taxes and home improvements: A new furnace or air conditioning system can help add to your home's basis, or overall value. That's an important number to know when you sell. Your basis is key to determining your home sale profit.
If you net $250,000 or less and you're a single seller, you won't owe any tax on your gain. The tax exempt amount is double that for married home sellers who file a joint return.
You can read more on how sprucing up the old abode could pay off when you move out in Home improvements and and your taxes.