Friday, December 27, 2013

End of Year (Tax) Savings Reminder - 2013

(Compliments of Kiplingers) I found this article reminding us all that if we have done any of these "energy efficient home improvements" ...  don't forget to take the tax credit! (Keep those receipts handy!)
Time Is Running Out on Energy-Efficient Home Improvement Tax Credits
Congress extended the deadline to December 31, 2013, for many energy-efficient improvements.
By Kimberly Lankford, November 13, 2013
Can I still get a tax credit for home improvements?

Yes, but most of them are about to expire (again). Last year, Congress extended the tax credit for many energy-efficient home improvements through 2013. You can receive up to $500 in total tax credits for eligible home improvements you’ve made since 2006. If you haven’t already claimed a credit of $500 or more for eligible home improvements, then you may be able to take the break before the end of the year. The improvements must be to your principal residence.
The size of the credit depends on the type of improvement. The tax break applies to 10% of the purchase price (not installation costs) of certain insulation materials, energy-efficient windows ($200 limit for windows), external doors and skylights, metal roofs with pigmented coating, and asphalt roofs with cooling granules that meet certain Energy Star requirements.
You can count both materials and labor costs for certain central air conditioners, biomass stoves, electric heat pumps and electric heat pump water heaters that meet specific energy-efficient guidelines -- up to a maximum of $300 each. You can count up to $150 for an eligible natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boiler.
The items must meet specific energy-efficient requirements to qualify. See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s tax breaks site, the Alliance to Save Energy tax credit page and the Tax Incentives Assistance Project for more information. Keep your receipts and the manufacturer’s certification of eligibility for your records.

Some alternative-energy improvements qualify for larger tax credits with a later deadline. You can take a credit worth 30% of the cost of buying and installing certain alternative-energy equipment, such as geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, solar panels, fuel cells and small wind-energy systems. You must make these improvements by December 31, 2016, and they aren’t subject to the $500 limit. See the Energy Star tax credit Web site for details on these credits. You can claim these credits by filing IRS Form 5695, “Residential Energy Credits,” which also includes more details about these credits.
If you don’t qualify for the federal incentives, see if you can get any state tax breaks for energy-efficient home improvements. For links to information about the programs in each state, see the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy site. For a list of several state and utility programs, see the Tax Incentives Assistance Project.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Future of Suburbs ?

Picture this: you're driving through the suburbs and come upon a good looking manicured neighborhood that surrounds a local golf course, nice right? Well in the not so far off future this same style of neighborhood may be slightly different ... take out the golf coure and insert a real working farm. Talk about fresh food! The community would have not only a working farm but spaces for a farmers market, a farm to table restaurant and more. (Very pedestrian friendly) Homeowners could choose to participate in the actual process of growing in exchange for the crops they produce or just leave it up to the farmer. Sounds like a win -win-win ... Win for the farmer, win for the homeowner and win for the planet. Check out this info:

Agriburbia Principles
Agriburbia® promotes and supports the following policies and principles:
•Agricultural Production: No loss of agricultural value or revenue ("Green Fields" development), or production of dietary requirements of the project or equivalent cash from sales crops, or combination thereof.
•Locally Grown Food: Production of a significant portion (30 to 50%) of dietary requirements grown within or in the immediate surrounding area of the community
•Conserves and Promotes Natural Resources: Appropriate and efficient use of natural resources to provide housing, transportation, recreation and fresh food through creative, harmonious land planning and landscape architecture for the community. This includes use of alternative energy sources as well as land and water.
•Self Sufficiency: Provide a commercially viable opportunity for enhanced self- sufficiency for community residents, tenants, and guests.
•Sustainable Energy Practices : Integrate solar and geothermal technology to provide sustainable energy sources for the community.
•Financing: Incorporate established entities (Metropolitan Districts, HOAs) to finance both traditional infrastructure (streets, water, sewer) and environmentally friendly agricultural infrastructure (drip irrigation)

*Quoted from   12/18/13

     I personally love the idea but if you know me I am sort of a "green person"so this just makes sense. I would love to see a generation of kids brought up on or around farms again so they can become the next great stewards of this planet. Imagine, kids playing outside, knowing exactly where their food comes from, unheard of nowadays. It's like getting back to basics but country on the edge of the city. Perfect!