A tax credit for air conditioning?

You can get a tax credit up to $1,500 to replace your central air conditioner.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor

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For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' 'Home Rich,' now in bookstores.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Question 1. My air conditioner is on its last leg. If I upgrade to a more efficient unit, is there a government rebate or anything else? -- Floyd, Florida

You will get a tax credit up to $1,500 if you're replacing your central air conditioner. But the new unit must meet certain criteria. For more info on what that criteria is, go to the Alliance to Save Energy at ase.org/tax credits. Now, if you're just replacing a window air conditioner, sadly, there is no tax credit for that.

Question 2. I'm a 36-year-old deputy sheriff about to get laid off. What can I do to get ready for this lay off if it happens? Is there any way to get some help to go back to school and lower my interest rate on our home loan? We also owe about $13,000 in credit card debt. -- Fred, Ohio

You'll first want to get on the phone with your mortgage lender and let them know about your change in circumstances. You may be able to negotiate with them to delay or postpone your monthly mortgage bill.

Then, call the credit card companies and ask about hardship programs. These hardship programs could lower your rate, or you may be put on a payment plan. Call your issuer since they're not advertised.

If you're having trouble getting them to the negotiation table, consider seeing an accredited credit counselor. Go to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at NFCC.org.

If you're interested in retraining, check out careervoyages.gov and look into your local community colleges to see what kind of classes they offer. As you look for your next job, pare down as many expenses as you can and start looking at ways you can bring in some kind of money. Crack open a CD if you have an emergency.

Question 3. How do I buy CDs? -- Anonymous

Certificates of Deposits is a type of account that pays a fixed interest rate if you agree to leave your money in that account alone for a certain period of time.

You can buy CDs that mature from one month to five years, or longer. If you take out your money before the maturity date, you usually pay a penalty. To get the most out of your money, choose a CD that has the highest interest rate.

Check rates at your local bank or go to places like bankrate.com to find the highest yielding rates. Then just apply online or fill out an application at a local bank. To top of page

Got a financial dilemma? Go to cnnmoney.com/helpdesk to submit questions, read the Help Desk articles and check out new Help Desk videos. And tune in to CNN's Newsroom Tuesdays and Fridays, when Gerri Willis and other experts answer your questions.
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