Tax incentives for energy efficiency and alternative energy upgrades are a mixed bag in 2015.

The Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which covers solar hot water, solar photovoltaic, wind, fuel cells, geothermal heat pumps and other alternative resources, is in place through 2016. The tax credit covers 30% of the cost of installing most systems, with no maximum. The exception is fuel cells, which qualify for a $500 incentive per 0.5 kW. For solar hot water systems, the system must provide at least half the homes’ heat from hot water. Geothermal heat pumps must be Energy Star certified, and fuel cells must have electricity-only generation efficiency greater that 30%.

The Federal Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit Texpired on December 31, 2014, unless Congress puts a new credit into place in the coming months. Residents that may qualify for the energy efficiency credit for water heaters, furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, insulation, windows, roofs and circulating fans must complete IRS form 5695 to claim the credit. Generally, the HVAC contractor can assist in filling out these forms.

Many states and regional utilities offer additional incentives in the form of rebates, tax credits, and other subsidies. For more information, check out the comprehensive DSIRE site. As of this writing a new improved website is indicated for implementation in the coming year. The present website is being maintained and updated as well. Double-checking with state and utilities is also recommended.