If you are among the thousands of American homeowners who will need to replace your roof this spring, there is some good news. You can replace your roof, choose a roof that is more energy efficient and makes your home more comfortable, and you can claim a credit on your Federal Income Tax return for 2009 for up to $1,500 because you chose an energy-efficient roof. And there is more.
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The Federal income tax credits are part of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”. An energy efficient new roof entitles you to claim a tax credit for 30% of the cost of the materials (not installation cost) for your new roof, up to a total maximum credit in a single year of $1,500. There are hundreds of roofing options for any type roof that meet the requirements to qualify for the tax credit. A complete list of list of qualifying roofing materials is available at the EnergyStar web site. You will find everything from insulating, highly-reflective coatings that can be applied to flat roofs, to roofing tiles made in a variety of colors and styles that offer both insulation and durability for homes in the south, southwest and beyond, to new longer-lasting and more efficient asphalt shingles, to new foam insulated metal roofing systems.
As you review roofing material options it is important to look carefully at the warranty and the level of insulation and reflectivity provided each. Many of the new energy-efficient roofing materials have much longer warranties, some as much as 60 years to a lifetime warranty. This is, of course a major factor in terms of justifying the price of the roofing material and providing assurance of no- or low-maintenance of the new roof. If you are concerned about creating an efficient and tight home envelope, an efficient roof is a vital part of the equation. In fact, the efficiency of your roof might be more important than many other parts of the building envelope. Insulation and a tight fit prevent heat exchange, but reflectivity of the sun’s rays, especially in the summer, is a most important element of keeping your home cool. 
Once you choose your roofing material, the next step will be to find and hire a qualified roofing contractor. Different roofing materials require different installation techniques or processes. You will need to be sure you hire a competent and certified installer. Some systems will not qualify for the tax credits unless they are installed by certified installers. But no roof is ever any better than they way it is installed. One of the great advantages of new metal roofing systems is that there will be no leaks and interior damage from roof leaks. But this cannot be guaranteed unless the roof is installed correctly.
As you choose materials and hire a roofing contractor, you will need to understand the costs and the installation time for the roof you select. Your contractor will be able to tell you exactly what to expect in terms of installation time. There might, for example be drying times for coatings or for the underlayment for the roofing material. Some roofing materials simply take longer to install because of size or method of attachment. Installing a cedar shake roof, for example, will take longer than installing asphalt shingles. Installing an insulated metal roof will probably take about three times as long as an asphalt shingle roof. 
The cost of the new materials will also be higher. For example, you might expect to pay about $4,500 for traditional asphalt shingles, plus $600 for removal of the old shingles. Replacing a roof with cedar shakes might cost three times as much. A new metal roofing system would probably cost about $14,600 (including removal of old shingles). But this cost would be recovered very quickly. Consider:
  • You take a $1,500 income tax credit
  • You increase the value of your home by $10,000
  • You have no roof maintenance cost ever again
  • You don’t have to worry about leaks or the cost of repairs
  • You can finance the cost at a super-low interest through a state-sponsored loan program
  • Your electric company (only available in some states) gives you a credit of $0.12 per kilowatt hour during air conditioning season
  • Your state gives you a break from sales tax and a $500 rebate
  • You save $13,500 because you don’t have to replace the roof at years 12 and 24
  • Your air conditioning cost will probably be 20% less
 Based on all of these factors, and on the many ways the decision to install a new energy-efficient roof will save money, you will recover the entire cost of the new roof in less than ten years! And all the while, you will enjoy greater comfort, less worry, and the knowledge that you are helping the environment.
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