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      Money Talks: converting this year's refund

      Last year, taxpayers received an average refund of about $3,000.

      That's a five percent boost from the previous year.

      If you're expecting money back this year, here's a bright idea.

      Earn 30 percent on it immediately and without risk.


      Buy something solar.

      Things like solar water heaters qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

      That means if you spend $5,000 to buy one, you're going to reduce next year's tax bill by 30 percent of that or $1,500 cash.

      Now, you've earned 30 percent on your money.

      But that's not all because you're also going to make that money back and more.

      Because a solar water heater will ultimately pay for itself with lower utility bills.

      "You can pay for it in probably five years," said Paul Farren, representative of The Energy Store.

      And solar water heating isn't the only thing that qualifies for the credit.

      Heat pumps, wind turbines and solar electricity all qualify for a 30 percent credit with no limit.

      Then, there are things that offer smaller, capped credits: energy efficient windows, for example, or Energy Star non-solar heaters.

      Bottom line?

      Getting a tax refund, spending it, then getting 30 percent back next year and all of it back over time, now that's a bright idea.

      More details and other ideas are at