Federal Energy Star tax credits are available for far more household applications than solar panels. A new garage door can net up to $1,500 in tax savings, but the tax credit comes with limits and a warning. The garage door tax credit covers 30 percent of the purchase price for a garage door installed in 2010, but it does not include installation and labor costs.
The Fine Print
The tax credit is designed to encourage energy efficiency, so only efficient garage doors are eligible. The IRS requires a certification from the manufacturer confirming that the U-Factor and solar heat gain coefficient are less than or equal to 0.3. Both numbers measure the amount of heat that can transfer through the door. The door must also be installed in an insulated garage at your primary residence.
Take care insulating the garage. Fumes from cars, chemicals and gas-powered tools can leak into the house from an attached garage. Be sure to insulate and tightly seal the wall between the house and the garage if you have an insulated, attached garage.
What to Look For
Energy Star does not maintain a list of qualifying garage doors, but there are various designs and products that make the grade. Some of the best doors include insulation between the metal surfaces, as well as thermal breaks to reduce heat transfer. Vinyl, fiberglass and wood doors may offer natural insulation, but typically not as much as metal doors with layers of extra insulation.
Look for garage doors with high insulation R values. Some models offer R values up to 18. Also look for efficient double-pane windows, and weather seals on the bottom edge to keep heat from leaking in and out under the door.
Install it Right
Installation is important. Be sure to mount the garage door with a tight seal around the frame and add weather strips if necessary. If you hire a professional, check specific references for clients who installed energy-efficient garage doors.
A more elaborate and energy-efficient garage door can cost up to $2,000, while a basic door costs about $300. The additional cost only makes sense if you regularly use the garage as a workshop or social space. An energy-efficient garage door in an insulated garage can keep you from wasting energy blasting a space heater or air conditioner. If you mainly park your car and store extra stuff in the garage, there is no reason to insulate or buy an expensive door.
If you want to improve the energy efficiency of your garage, you might also consider an insulation kit for a functional, existing garage door. Just be sure not to create a fire hazard, and make sure the added insulation doesn't make the door too heavy for the garage door opener.
Energy-efficient garage doors are eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $1,500.