How Did Homeowners Use the Energy Tax Credits?

In 2005, Congress established a number of energy-efficiency tax incentives related to housing. These policies include the tax code section 45L credit for the construction of energy-efficient homes, the 25C credit for retrofitting existing homes, and the 25D credit for the installation of power production property in new and existing homes.

Using earlier IRS data for tax year 2009, we previously examined who benefitted from these credits, as well as how homeowners used the credits. Newer 2010 data also allow exploring these energy related investments.


The 25C credit is only available for existing homes. In 2010, the rules were more favorable than today, with a 30% credit and $1,500 limit. Those rules have since been pared back during successive extension efforts. The current form of the credit expires at the end of 2013.

The IRS data indicate that in terms of dollars, energy-efficient windows were the most popular investment, totaling more than $7.8 billion of spending by more than 2.2 million homeowners. Energy efficient natural gas, propane, and oil powered water heaters and furnaces were second, with $5.3 billion in qualified expenditures by almost 1.4 million taxpayers.

In total, more than $26 billion of qualified improvements were made in 2010 in connection with the 25C credit. These expenditures resulted in more than $5.4 billion in tax credits for just shy of 7 million homeowners.


The 25D credit is for installation of qualified power production property in both new and existing homes. The credit is equal to 30% of expenditures, including certain labor costs. And unlike the 25C credit, the 25D program is currently set to expire years from now – at the end of 2016.

The most popular 25D investment in 2010 was the installation of solar panels. 25D qualified solar electric property investments totaled almost $1.5 billion in 2010 for more than 100,000 taxpayers. The second largest category was geothermal heat pumps, with $920 million of installations claimed by almost 73,000 homeowners.

In total, for 2010 there was $2.67 billion of qualified power production investments yielding about $800 million in 25D credits.

Given the rising popularity of items like solar panels, builders are well advised to examine the 25D program for prospective homeowners.

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