Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Montana Ranks 7th in the Happiest States Survey

According to, Montana ranks 7th among the top 10 Happiest States in the United States! New research on state-level reports that essentially, if an individual says they're happy, they are. The reported results come from a comparison of two data sets of happiness levels in each state, one that relied on participants' self-reported well-being and the other an objective measure that took into account a state's weather, home prices and other factors that are known reasons to frown or smile. The information came from 1.3 million U.S. citizens who took part in a survey between 2005 and 2008. We encourge you to visit Montana and come see why we are so happy here! Or if you already live in this great state, post a comment on our blog about what makes you so happy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Appliance Rebate Program Coming to Montana in April 2010

It’s never too early to mark your calendars…Cash For Clunkers is coming back to Montana, but this time it’s for home appliances and not cars. The program will allow consumers to replace their old appliances with new, more energy-efficient models. Montana will be allocated a little more than $900,000 from the federal program to cover about 9.700 rebates.

Maybe you have clients that have a house for sale, but with extremely old appliances that need that little extra “oomph” to push their kitchen over the top, this may be their solution! Under the program, refrigerators and washing machines will net a $100 rebate; freezers will pay $70 and dishwashers will get $50. Appliances must be Energy Star rated to qualify for the rebates. We will all have to act fast as the demand could exceed the rebate supply.

Any Montana resident is eligible for the program, including those who rent. Not more than one rebate per appliance is allowed for each household. The program doesn’t apply to rental property owners or commercial enterprises.

The benefits are saving energy and money on the monthly utility bill as well as getting new appliances. Older appliances are particularly energy inefficient and the program encourages their replacement. The program will start in April 2010 and the funds must be expended by February 2012. Rebates are not retroactive prior to April 2010. You may claim this rebate in addition to any rebates offered through manufacturers and/or local utility rebate programs. For forms to make application in April check

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Homeowners Save Energy, Cash with Tax Breaks

So your car isn't a clunker? And you're not buying a new home? (But maybe you should be!) But maybe your air-conditioning unit is on the fritz. Or your small business needs new equipment or office furniture. Perhaps you have always wanted solar panels. Then there is a tax break waiting for you. Although there hasn't been much hype surrounding these credits and deductions-all increased or expanded by federal stimulus bills passed this year and last year-retailers say sales of new, energy-efficient products are beating expectations in the midst of the recession. Federal stimulus laws allow homeowners to get a tax credit of 30% of the cost of energy efficient windows, doors, water heaters, air conditioners and furnaces, up to a maximum of $1500. So, if you max out your credit on your new A/C, you can't use it for one of the other items. But if you don't use any or all of the credit this tax year, you can buy a qualifying item and claim the credit or any remaining credit in 2010, said Amy McAnarney, an executive director at H&R Block's Tax Institute. The items have to be installed by Dec 31, 2010, for taxpayers to claim the credit. Get a copy of the manufacturer's statement to make sure your item qualifies for the tax credit.

Another tax credit allows homeowners to get up to 30% of the cost of solar energy systems, such as solar water heating and solar power, small wind systems and geothermal heat pumps if they are installed by Dec 31, 2016. It's separate from the credit for windows, doors and A/C units so homeowners can use both. There is no cap on the solar credit.

Information courtesy of RISMedia -