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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 any home improvement projects?

If your answer is yes, are you considering energy efficient home improvements?

While winter may be months away, we all know it’s coming and that means higher heating bills. While we typically can’t avoid these changes, there are a few ways to reduce their long-term impact on your pocketbook.

Now is a great time to consider investing in energy efficient home improvements. Not only will you do your part to help the environment, you may also be looking at tax credits to help offset some of the costs.

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

Insulate the attic

When the 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 to keep the warm air in and the cool air out.

Also, don’t forget to block your unused fireplace so it doesn’t suck heat up your chimney.

Change your furnace filter

It takes a lot of energy to blast air through a dirty furnace filter. Check your filter to see if it needs to be swapped for a new one. You may need to change your filter as often as once a month, especially if you have pet hair in your home.

Use solar panels for water heating

Solar panels used for heating and cooling your house can be a great alternative source of energy. Unfortunately, these improvements can be on the expensive side, making it difficult to most of us recoup the full cost of installation.

That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the sun’s warm rays. If your house gets enough sun, using its energy 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 purchase insulation, windows, doors or roofs that come with a manufacturer’s credit certification statement, you can get 10 percent of your cost back as a tax credit. Keep in mind this credit has a lifetime limit of $500, of which only $200 can be for windows.

Are you buying any alternative energy equipment? If so, you may qualify for an even higher percentage back on your investment.

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

Small changes can make a big impact.

While you’re in the energy-saving mood, be sure to turn unused electronics off and give away that old refrigerator in the garage. Many energy companies will send you a rebate for recycling unused, working equipment, such as refrigerators or air conditioner units. Check with the providers in your area to see if you can take advantage of this benefit.

Even though unplugging excess appliances and electronics may not get you a tax credit, it will help you 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.