The $500 is a “lifetime” limit. If you claimed over $500 in energy tax credits from 2006 - 2010 you are not eligible for a credit for 2011.
The credit is available for -
* Biomass Stoves
* Heating Ventilating, Air Conditioning (Advanced Main Air Circulating Fan, Air Source Heat Pumps, Central Air Conditioning, Gas, Propane, or Oil Hot Water Boiler, and Natural Gas, Propane or Oil Furnace)
* Roofs (Metal and Asphalt)
* Water Heaters (Gas, Propane or Oil Water Heater, and Electric Heat Pump Water Heater)
* Windows and Doors
When you purchase any of the listed items ask the salesperson for a Manufacturer’s Certification Statement - a signed statement from the manufacturer certifying that the product or component qualifies for the tax credit.
If you have already purchased an item that you think may qualify but do not have a Manufacturer’s Certification Statement go back to the salesman and ask one. You can also go to the website of the item’s manufacturer and download a Certification Statement.
You can go to the Energy Star website to find out what the specific qualifications are for individual items.
You are not required to attach a copy of the Manufacturer’s Certification Statement to your tax return – but you need to keep one “on file” with your 2011 documentation in case you are questioned. And you will need to give a copy of the Certification Statement to your tax preparer at tax time to verify that your purchase qualifies for the credit.
When giving your tax pro your “stuff” next February or March do not just include a copy of the bill for one of the above items, or a note that you spent $800 for a new hot water heater, and expect him/her to waste his/her valuable time attempting to determine if the purchase qualifies for the credit. You must verify that the purchase qualifies if you want him/her to claim a credit!