Take Uncle Sam’s money… please!

11 Oct

We’ve been talking about insulation lately.

And while I’m building posts about “HOW” to insulate your ISBU Home…

I want to stress that NOW is a good time to re-insulate the home that you’re in NOW, if you’re considering a DIY project to increase the energy efficiency of your home.

And, it’ll put you that much ahead of the game when you start building skills, as you build your ISBU Home.

Remember that the money you save on your utility bills may actually help you save up to build your ISBU Castle.

So pay attention to what’s happening around you. As the elections get closer , more and more is being said about Tax Credits, and who got them for you. Frankly, I don’t care WHO put them in the pipe, as long as I can use them to make my family that much more comfortable.

You Can Use 2009 & 2010 Tax Credits to Save Even More Money re-insulating your existing home.

Yes, it’s true. And it’s not one of those deals where you have to wade thru tons of paperwork to find out if you qualify. You can get up to a $1,500 Tax Credit on your 2009 & 2010 Taxes when you insulate with SPF (Spray Foam Insulation).

Why? Well according to Energy Star, the 2009 & 2010 Tax Credits allow you to save 30% of the cost of the kits (up to a maximum of $1,500), when you improve the insulation in your home.

I bet you’re asking why you should care about a Tax Credit, right?

I mean, tax deductions are cool too, right?

Dollar for dollar, Tax Credits are MUCH better than deductions because a tax credit lowers your tax bill “dollar for dollar”.

That translates into REAL savings, because a $1,500 Tax Credit saves you from paying $1,500 to the government. That’s $1,500 cash that stays in YOUR pocket.

On the other hand, a $1,500 tax deduction only reduces your taxable income. That means you save some fraction of $1,500.

What is SPF (Spray Foam Insulation)?

Spray foam insulation starts out as a multi-part liquid (think “2 part epoxy”, for an example of what I’m talking about) that is sprayed directly onto your walls, your ceilings, and even underneath your floors. Once it’s there, it expands to fill up all the leaky nooks and crannies in your house.

So, not only does it acts as an insulator, it also becomes a great  air-tight seal.

By using SPF (properly applied, mind you…) your  home will experience amazing new results as it combats Mother Nature. There won’t be any heat-loss during the winter and in the summer your cool air out of the A/C unit can’t seep out, unless you were born in a barn… TED. 😉

This means that you’ll save money on your electric bill as a result.

Let me also point out that SPF is also much safer than other types of insulation. It is non-allergenic and contains no formaldehyde or chemicals that harm the ozone. It has a Class 1 fire rating (and that is the BEST of ALL insulation materials), and it inhibits mold and mildew growth. Further, SPF insulation doesn’t settle, contract, or biodegrade (break down) over time.

Bugs don’t like it. Vermin don’t like it either. Yet another bonus, huh?

You should know that Spray foam insulation can come in either open-cell or closed-cell varieties. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, other than to say that of the two different types of SPF, closed-cell foams (polyurethane) has the highest R value (up to r7 per inch), and it doesn’t “cure” all soft and crumbly.

I always, always, always use CLOSED CELL SPF.

Once you put it where it goes, you can forget about it. It’s there working for you, forever.

Okay, here’s the rules:

The SPF (spray foam) must be installed in a taxpayer’s principal residence in 2009 or 2010.

No vacation homes, no RV’s,  no cabins in the woods… unless that’s where you hang your hat for most of the year.

$1,500 is the maximum total amount that can be claimed for all products installed in 2009 & 2010.

Can you use this tax credit while BUILDING a NEW ISBU home? No.

The tax credit for insulation is only for pre-existing dwellings.

People will tell you that lots of other insulation types will qualify.  But you can rest assured that SPF is definitely one of them. Spray Foam qualifies for the 2009 & 2010 Tax Credit because the primary purpose is to insulate your home.

Remember also that SPF provides a lot of other cool features as well. SPF forms an Air Barrier as well as a Class III Vapor Retarder. It’s a moisture barrier, too. SPF won’t settle, sag, or break down into worthless dust. It’s much better than stuff like fiberglass batts in that regard. SPF has a useful life that exceeds the usual Fiberglass Batt 5 year life.

And, although insulation professionals will tell you that you can’t do it;

“It’s just too difficult for DIY’rs!”

That is nonsense. I’ve trained 16 year old high school kids (we’re talking “trained monkeys”, folks…) to apply SPF insulation. 🙂

There are some things you’ll need; (and they aren’t even that expensive)

  • a hooded tyvek suit,
  • eye protection – goggles, please,
  • gloves (even gardening gloves will work),
  • extra nozzles and fan spray tips,
  • and patience… TAKE YOUR TIME.

SPF is fast, easy and energy efficient. In fact, it’s about twice as effective as fiberglass batts, in half the space.

And for you” whiners” out there…

Yes, SPF costs more than fiberglass batts.

There’s a good reason for it. Because it does so many jobs “seemingly all at once” it’s more expensive to manufacture and apply. Although spray foam insulation is more expensive than other types of insulators, it’s easy to justify to anyone with a brain in their head. It can singlehandedly lower a household’s electric bill up to 60%.

Those savings will pay for the insulation materials in no time.

You’re gonna get what you pay for.

And you all know how I feel about fiberglass batts…

About the only thing that they are good for is landfill… And they aren’t good for that, either.

Stay tuned.

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4 Responses to “Take Uncle Sam’s money… please!”

  1. ted yrizarry October 11, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    The peanut gallery requests an impartial list of your faovorite Foam spray kits please. Maybe your top 5 or 10, any brands or vendors you’d recomend avoiding? I’ve googled a few and there are a wide range of them. They all essentually seel the same deal but I can’t imagine they are all identical?
    Also, given there are some with non-reusable tanks and some that offer kits in which you use the tanks then return them (like Oxy/Act?) to have them refilled or exchanged. Which do you prefer for the bigger jobs. For the use then share peeps among us…which woks better to share the buy in costs? From what I have seen most look like not much more than a cheap 2 part gun and some fridge hose that use a series of shut off valves. And the product tanks of course.And the “how to” vids show them burning through the application tips like they were free…well, I guess to the vendors they ARE free. But how many is enough?
    Come on Alex….spill the beans!

  2. James Goddard October 11, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    I agree with Alex. I have been doing Home Inspections, in Indiana, for 23 years. The only value I find in fiberglass batts (I don’t call it insulation!!!) is for the landfill & unknowdgeable DIY’s and cheap contractors to install in expensive stick-built homes.

    Does anyone know the real r-value of fiberglass batts?

    James Goddard

  3. Mike Farley November 15, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    Where do you recommend a DIYer purchase closed cell spray foam? Can a DIYer claim the tax credit or does it need to be installed by a contractor?

    • Renaissance Ronin November 16, 2010 at 12:43 am #

      Hi Mike,

      You can usually “catalog order” SPF canisters (and even arrange to rent a sprayer) from your local Home Improvement store. Remember, it’s a two-part process.

      Here’s a tip I’ve discovered recently (Nov. 2010): The economy is killing us… especially contractors. Once you’ve found out what it will cost you to apply SPF yourself, ASK local insulation contractors for bids. You may find, in this terrible economy that it’s actually cheaper and easier to have someone else do it. Show them your sourced materials “costs” and go from there. They get discounts on that material that most of us can’t get. They may do it for you at a comparable price and still make a few bucks. They have families too!

      And remember that you need warmth to get the SPF to set up properly! Don’t shoot it in the cold!

      Additionally, I’m told by many insulation contractors that they have to assist you in filing for the credit using their contractor’s license number, but my tax guy says that you can use the material receipts and estimate labor and file yourself. Your mileage may vary.

      The best advise I can give you is to simply ask a reputable tax guy or gal in your locale…

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