It’s been one of the coldest, snowiest winters that I can recall. Despite all of that downright balmy-for-February weather they prattled on about during the Super Bowl, it’s yet another cold day here in the northeast.
The temperatures have been so cold that we’ve managed to blow through much of the firewood for the winter already and if you use oil or propane, your bills have probably long since topped four figures. Ouch!?
So as the snow and ice piles up – and our bank balances get lower – is there anything to help offset these costs? Any sort of tax breaks?
The tax break answer for most families is “no”. Staying warm and dry, while desirable, isn’t generally tax deductable. These costs are considered personal expenses and therefore, not deductible. But there is a light at the end of the snow tunnel.
Improving your home’s energy efficiency may bring tax breaks (if using energy star or efficiency rated materials). And improvements may also add to your home’s basis, which is essentially your home’s long term value.
If you upgrade your heating system, add solar, a wood heater, insulate pipes and new windows, these are long term improvements that add to basis. Any improvements that remain with the house if you sell it are additions to basis.
Also, this might be a good time to think about the improvements you can afford this year that will just plain lower next year’s heating cost. Additional insulation, sealing air leaks, tightening windows and doors – these are all dollars well spent that will lower your heating costs next year and for years thereafter.