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4 Energy Efficient Home Improvements to Save You Money

4 Energy Efficient Home Improvements to Save You Money - TaxACT

Are you planning, or in the middle of, making improvements to your home?

Are you considering energy efficient home improvements?

Though months away, we all know winter’s coming, and with it brings higher heating bills.

Now is a great time to think about investing in energy efficient home improvements – and possible tax credits to go with them.

Some energy efficient improvements pay back your investment more quickly than others, however. The best energy efficient saving deals are often the least glamorous, like a tube of caulking.

Consider making these improvements before the temperatures start dropping this fall:

Insulate the attic

Heat goes up.

You may be tempted to insulate the walls, but that can be expensive. The first place you should insulate is right over your head.

Check for drafts

A small draft is like having a door cracked open. Get out the caulking gun, weather stripping, or other draft stopping tools.

Block your unused fireplace so it doesn’t suck heat up your chimney.

Change your furnace filter

It takes more energy to blast air through a dirty furnace filter. You may need to change your filter as often as once a month, especially if you have pet hair and other things in your home.

Use solar panels for water heating

Solar panels for heating and cooling your house may not be quite there yet. Most of us would never recoup the cost of installation.

If you get enough sun, however, using the energy of the sun to heat water can save you money.

Take a tax credit

Uncle Sam can even help you pay for certain investments in energy efficient home improvements.

If you pay for insulation, windows, doors, and roofs that come with a manufacturer’s credit certification statement, you can get 10% of your cost back as a tax credit.

This credit has a lifetime limit of $500, of which only $200 of credit can be for windows.

You’ll get a higher percentage back on alternative energy equipment.

If you install solar energy systems, fuel cells, small wind energy systems, or geothermal heat pumps, you can take a tax credit for 30% of the cost.

There is no limit on this credit amount. If you can’t use the entire credit this year, you can carry the rest forward to next year.

Invest in your energy efficient home improvements in 2013.

Congress extended the credits to the end of the year, but it’s hard to say if they will extend it again.

While you’re thinking about saving energy, turn unused electronics off, and give away that old refrigerator in the garage. You may not get a tax credit for unplugging excess appliances and electronics, but you’ll save on your energy bills.

How often do you change your furnace filter?

Photo credit: Presidency Maldives via photopin cc

About Sally Herigstad

Sally Herigstad is a certified public accountant and personal finance columnist and author of Help! I Can't Pay My Bills, Surviving a Financial Crisis (St. Martin's Griffin). She writes regularly at,,, RedPlum, and MSN Money. She is an experienced speaker and a member of Toastmasters International. Follow Sally on Twitter.